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...
Sugar Cane’s Got the Blues
This is the album that put Sugarcane Harris on the map as a band leader. It was also MPS’s number one selling album at the time. Called “his best overall recording” by Allmusic, the album was recorded at the 1971 Berlin Jazz Days on the same day that Sugarcane played with the New Violin Summit, another successful MPS live recording that includes violin greats Jean-Luc Ponty, Michel Urbaniak, and Nipsy Brantner. Harris is accompanied by an all-star group assembled especially for the two Berlin appearances. With former Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt providing the high voltage on drums, Harris electrifies on his high-energy Liz Pineapple Wonderful. Harris’ virtuoso intro and finale on Sugar Cane's Got the Blues melds into an emotional lyricism. Impressive solos from guitarist Volker Kriegel and the great German keyboardist Wolfgang Dauner, who trespasses over into free jazz. There’s a rocking version of Horace Silver’s Song for My Father, while the 24 bar blues Where's My Sunshine radiates powerful funky solos by all the frontline players. It’s a bright upbeat end to an album featuring Sugarcane Harris’ gritty, passionate play backed by a stellar band of empathic musicians.