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Nico Wayne Toussaint

Nico Wayne Toussaint - Blasting the Blues

Nico Wayne Toussaint's latest effort is entitled "Blasting The Blues." Given the title, one has a certain idea of what to expect before the firs tspin. That notion isn't disavowed in the least by the first track. "Late Last Night" opens with a heavy guitar hook and continues as a one-chord boogie style rap leading to some very tasty amplified harp work by Nico. Unfortunately, the tempo and tenor of the song changes at the end to accomodate some frenetic slide guitar that most definitely puts the "z" in"blooz".

The second tune is a classic Muddy Waters song called "Champagne and Reefer" featuring Nico's bluesy vocals and Little Walter-style harp flitting and buzzing in the background throughout. Nico's tone is classic Chicago on the solo and he keeps it short and sweet in the traditional style. "Cadillac Babe" picks up the pace again and is reminiscent of James Cotton's treatment of "Rocket 88" in feel. Nico cites Junior Wells and Cotton as his main inspirations and his style is reflective of both, if leaning a bit toward Cotton, especially on this tune. If this one doesn't get you boppin', check your pulse.

"Little Angel Child" is a slow blues with Nico wailing some fine acoustic harmonica, again with a nod to Cotton. Nico puts the pedal to the metal once again with "Hot Sometimes", a classic blues beat with some interesting chord changes to give it some interest. The first guitar solo modulates up a step, then the band falls back down for the second guitar solo and Nico's harp solo. Screaming tone aplenty marks this as another tune that would be a great one to end a live set with.

At this point, the pace changes considerably with "Morning Swing", a jazzy number featuring Nico's chromatic harmonica chops and a bass solo in the middle. "No Sweat" is the first song on the CD with French lyrics, aside from the title. This is another jazzy cut featuring a clarinet weaving its way throughout the song and Nico's smooth vocals, but no harp. More acoustic harp is the highlight of "She's Got Them Attitudes." This is a bouncy tune in the jug band tradition. "Blasting" is the appropriate word for "Walking Blues." That loud whirring noise you hear is Robert Johnson spinning in his grave. 'Nuff said.

"Got Love If You Want It" is an interesting treatment of the classic Slim Harpo tune. Heavy reverb on an unamplified harmonica and vocals backed with tremolo-soaked guitar and Bo Diddley drums give this track an appropriately swampy feel. "L'avenir avenir" features French lyrics and countrified slide guitar and would play well on the crossover country charts. It's a pretty tune, but I'm not sure what it's doing on this disk.

The proceedings glide to a halt with "I'm In Love". I once saw Steve Guyger play a slow blues for the third encore at a gig which calmed the frenzied crowd and sent them home mellowed out rather than stomping and cheering for even more. This track is in that spirit and leaves the listener in a mellow, contemplative state of mind rather than blasting to a finish, as the CD title would have him expect.

The scary thing about Nico is that compared to old-timers like myself, he's a mere kid. His combination of tone, chops and soul is unusual in a player that young. There are a ton of young harp slingers around with chops to burn and the tone to match, but they have no soul, at least not to these ears. Nico will only get better with maturity, to which I for one am looking very much forward.

John "Chon" Sawyer

Buy at FNAC