January 5, 2008


Three Guitars and Plenty of Blues (BEN RATLIFF, 1/05/08, NY Times)

Hubert Sumlin, now 76, is used to playing concerts like “Howlin’ for Hubert,” at the Jazz Standard through this weekend. He was the guitarist who played the silvery leads on Howlin’ Wolf’s great Chicago blues records of the 1950s and ’60s. On Thursday every tune was from Howlin’ Wolf’s songbook, and Wolf’s name scarcely needed to be mentioned. It’s a Hubert Sumlin gig now.

It helps if Wolf’s voice can be invoked, though, and that explained the presence of David Johansen. Mr. Johansen, who has worked with Mr. Sumlin before, is naturally comical with his baritone. His version of Howlin’ Wolf got at the broad humor that was always there, no matter how many times Wolf has been compounded into a feral myth. [...]

But the real action arrived a little later. The guitarist James Blood Ulmer joined the band halfway through the set, and now there were three guitars, including that of Jimmy Vivino, of late-night television’s Max Weinberg 7, who acted as the evening’s musical director. And at the luckiest moments, there were triple-deckered guitar solos through slow music, showing completely different approaches to the instrument.

No one ever put on a more ferocious stage show than Holwin' Wolf though.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 5, 2008 7:59 AM
Comments for this post are closed.