Paul Oscher

Alone With the Blues

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Paul Oscher is an alumnus of the Muddy Waters band, where he played harmonica in the late '60s, and developed his talent on guitar from watching Muddy himself, and his piano style from the late Otis Spann. This fourth solo outing is a mishmash of sessions -- one of which, his take on "That's Alright," was recorded on cassette in a Brooklyn boarding house. But it hangs together surprisingly well, since Oscher is very much an old-school bluesman. He can delve into the past for obscurities, such as his cover of Big Joe Turner's "Juke Joint," and juggle a variety of different harmonicas on the title cut for a wonderful effect that demonstrates -- in an understated way -- his virtuosity. But he can also create a great atmosphere on accordion, and proves it on "Louis Collins," while "Blues Before Sunrise" shows that he learned very well how to play piano, its dark colors showing in the aching vocal and stark fingerwork. Nor does he ignore the guitar, giving "Anna Lee" a raw slide workout that's packed with passion. Whatever he does, it seems, Oscher is a master, and this is blues well worth hearing.

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