Don "Sugar Cane" Harris' drug addiction curtailed his career long prior to his death in 2000, but this performance at the 1971 Berlin Jazz Festival stands out as his best overall recording. Taped during the same day as the highly recommended New Violin Summit (which features Harris with fellow violinists Jean-Luc Ponty, Nipso Branther, and Michal Urbaniak), Harris delivers a terrific performance with his high energy "Liz Pineapple Wonderful"; "Sugar Cane's Got the Blues," a sometimes lyrical but often intense number featuring great solos by keyboardist Wolfgang Dauner and guitarist Volker Kriegel; the unusually structured blues "Where's My Sunshine"; and finally an extended very percussive treatment of Horace Silver's "Song for My Father," during which Terje Rypdal takes over on guitar. Harris is clearly influenced by fellow violinist Stuff Smith on this outing with an often piercing sound and frequently fierce attack; he also has a somewhat hoarse singing style like Smith's. This record has been difficult to find since BASF quit making records in the mid-'70s, but it is well worth acquiring and thanks to a reissue in 2008 by SPV, easier than ever.
Sugar Cane's Got the Blues Review
by Ken Dryden
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