Ping Pong Percussion

Harmonica and Ping Pong Percussion

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"I'll be sad when my investigation of Ping Pong Percussion is complete," lab assistant Igor mused the other day while munching on some "filet American." Harmonica and Ping Pong Percussion may be the best of the lot in a series that inexplicably links the "PPP" word with popular Broadway shows and Leroy Anderson's orchestral compositions, to mention just two whacks from the ping pong paddle peddle. This album should actually be considered an Eddy Manson album, although his name does not appear on the front cover. It does appear in the space usually reserved for the artist on the label, which also identifies the album title as Harmonica and Percussion without any mention of Ping Pong Percussion. Perhaps some kind of deal was reached regarding who was going to be credited where. Depressing as it is, in the '60s the concept of Ping Pong Percussion was more playable as a profit packer than the presence of a harmonica virtuoso. But one wonders about the applicability of this concept here -- since the percussion on the album is presented much differently than it is on other Ping Pong Percussion releases, including the frighteningly banal tribute to Jerome Kern in which percussion patches pass between stereo speakers as a prelude to perilously partial Muzak sections. It might have been fun to hear the wonderful Manson blow over arrangements such as that, but what he works with here is even better: a fine big band that blows hard enough to give his muscular harp blowing a totally solid background. The players and leader of this big band are not credited. While the overall production is squalid, as a side for harmonica enthusiasts this will not be a letdown. Manson plays wonderfully throughout, carried away with an enthusiastic spirit no doubt affected by the rarity of what he was creating. There simply aren't that many generous tastes of harmonica soloists playing over jazz big-band arrangements of material such as "Slaughter on 10th Avenue Theme," "Yellow Rose of Texas," and "Nellie Bly." Unfortunately, it seems like Igor has claimed this LP as a "keeper." Not only does he like the soloist's surname, Igor has had a thing for harmonicas ever since that Western with Charles Bronson.

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