The Stranger's Hand

The Stranger's Hand

Jerry Goodman : violin, guitar /  Oteil Burbridge : bass
Howard Levy : harmonica, piano, organ,… / Steve Smith : drums

"The Stranger's Hand" is a very well produced fusion album on top of being a thrilling project to fans of Howard Levy and strong sensations. Four virtuoso musicians get together for a one time energy packed jazz n' rock session. 10 pieces composed and recorded over 9 studio days. Fast tempos, speedy instrumental solos, unusual rythmic breaks and daring harmonies, all the ingredients are in there and these four 'monsters' certainly sound like they're enjoying themselves.

Howard Levy keeps his trademark smooth and violinesque phrasing that instantly identifies the sound as his own, but he does surprise us with some pretty raw outbursts, especially in "Brick Chicken" and "The Stranger's Hand" where he offers himself a superfast hard-rocky sounding saturated solo that will knock your socks off. Throughout the album he demonstrates his increadible mastery of the harmonica and an ability to make complex things sound smooth and easy that are still unequaled in the world of the diatonic harmonica. It also very interesting to listen to the piano and organ parts that Howard plays in pieces like "Moonchild". It's a very good insight into the way that he builds up his harmonica phrasings.

As an encore, listen closely to the Levy-Smith original "Going up". It's a drums-harmonica duo in which both musicians create a genuine musical dialogue and keep the tension going until the very last note. Breathtaking !

Greg Szlapczynski

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