Wabi Down Home Blues Project Band

The Best Things in Life Are Still Made by Hand

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The main focus of Asian Improv Records has been jazz by Asian artists -- many but not all of them avant-garde. This CD is a departure for the company in that it contains no jazz whatsoever; The Best Things in Life Are Still Made By Hand is an album of pure Chicago blues. But it does have one thing in common with other Asian Improv releases: most of the participants are Asian. The leader of this project is Sejii "Wabi" Yuguchi, a singer/ harmonica player from Japan. Wabi isn't a bad harpist, and he brings a gritty, tough style of playing to original material as well as Willie Dixon's "Oh, Baby" and two Little Walter songs ("Last Night" and "Can't Hold Out Much Longer"). As a vocalist, he manages to get his points across despite the fact that Japanese, not English, is his primary language. Occasionally, Wabi will mispronounce a word, but even though he sings with an accent, he is understandable. Although this CD was recorded in 2000, it often sounds like it could have been recorded for Chess or Delmark in the 1950s or 1960s. Wabi doesn't overproduce -- if anything, it sounds like he is underproducing on purpose in order to get the sort of rawness that characterized the electric Chicago blues of that time. If Wabi wanted a Chess-like ambiance, he accomplished his goal on this competent, if derivative and imperfect, CD.

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