James Cohen

High Side of Low Down

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The High Side of Low Down is a cool combination of gypsy jazz, flamenco, and blues. Performed by the James Cohen Band, this 11-track set features both flamenco and steel-stringed guitarists out front on original compositions penned by both Cohen and his bandmates. Tony D. who has been hailed as one of the best blues guitarists in Canada, plays a superb steel-string on the opening track, titled "Pun Tango," which is literally a real treat for Astor Piazzolla or tango enthusiasts. Flavored with the accordion playing of the legendary keyboard player Richard Bell, the song captures the essence of a Buenos Aires tango club through soaring melodies and ace guitar emotion. "High Side of Lowdown" is a beautiful song that features rich harmonies and splendid flamenco rhythms influenced by gypsy motives that reflect the sentiments -- in this writer's interpretation, balancing the high side of the flamenco art form with the low-down feeling of the blues. The group is red-hot on "Fortune's Fool," offering virtuosic guitar work and stimulating solos. As a guitarist, James Cohen is somewhat reminiscent of the great Ottmar Liebert, but has noticeably set himself apart from Liebert's nouveau flamenco style by using the steel-string guitar and other instruments to vary the polymetric and cross-rhythmic scales and to evolve the art form. If you enjoy the sophistication of flamenco and the low-down, gutsy feeling of the blues played by a tight-knit ensemble, you may want to add James Cohen's vivid world music interpretations to your music collection.

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