Called ‘the Jimmy Hendrix of the violin’, compared with Eric Clapton and spoken of in the same breath with the likes of Jean Luc Ponty, violinist Don ‘Sugarcane’ Harris was the master of jazz inflected rock ‘n roll on his instrument. His association with Frank Zappa brought him into the limelight, but he also played and recorded with John Lee Hooker, Little Richard and rhythm & blues legend Johnny Otis, the man who gave him the nickname ‘Sugarcane’. L.A. guitarist Randy Resnick reminisced about working with Harris, “All I can say is that I never got chills in any other band like the ones I got when Don took off…it was tribal, it was primitive and it was real...

Flashin’ Time

Once again blues/jazz violin maestro Don ‘Sugarcane’ Harris teams up with ‘homeboy’ and longtime musical compadre, keyboardist Dewy Terry. The masterful German guitarist Volker Kriegel, rejoins Sugarcane, along with bassist Günter Lenz of the legendary Albert Mangelsdorff Quartet fame; American drummer Todd Canedy rounds out the group. The medium tempo jazz romp The Last Mile features soulful solos by Harris and Kriegel, while the passionate ballad Nesia cleverly transitions into a ¾ bridge while maintaining the poignant feel. There’s nothing questionable about Third Time Suspicious: it’s Sugarcane showin’ off his funky side, with Kriegel and Terry getting in on the action. The spacey intro to Flashin’ Time settles into a pulsating 6/8 grove and Harris’ brilliant solo. The down ‘n dirty slow blues Out of Pocket is actually so ‘in the pocket’ it hurts; a mix of soul-felt pain and pleasure that epitomizes the meaning of the blues. Although 16 bars instead of the classic 12, The Willies is pure blues in feel, a fitting end to a masterclass in jazz and blues taught by the great Sugarcane Harris.