Danny Kalb / Stefan Grossman


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Crosscurrents Review

by Thom Jurek

Originally released in 1969, Crosscurrents is the meeting of two very different guitarists collaborating on the blues and other folk forms. This is deep American white music played with character, innocence, and instrumental acumen. Danny Kalb was one of the co-founders of the Blues Project and a brilliant if underacknowledged guitarist. Stefan Grossman is, of course, one of the best-known acoustic guitarists in the world. This fleeting collaboration is inspired, ego-less, and gritty. Grossman wrote the lion's share of the set though Kalb, with his electric guitar and psychedelic effects, is an equal foil (though acoustically, Kalb is a monster as well). The evidence is everywhere, but oddly enough it is best expressed on Brownie McGhee's "Louise Louise," and the traditional blues "Death Letter Blues," most closely associated with Son House. Kalb's singing is looser, less forced, and deeper in the groove. His willingness to let the solos glide and shimmer back forth with a solid rhythm section -- Art Koenig and Joe Hunt -- pushing them deeper. "Death Letter Blues," with killer harmonica by Don Brooks, juxtaposes the electric and acoustic guitars in stunning fashion. Kalb wails and wallers and his arrangement of the tune is original and reverent at the same time. This is a welcome reissue on compact disc. The music here sounds dated, but in the best possible way: we don't have music like this being made anymore. It's raw, yet full of integrity, ambition, curiosity, originality, and abandon, with a healthy regard for excellence in performance.

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