Called ‘the Jimmy Hendrix of the violin’, compared to Eric Clapton and spoken of in the same breath with the likes of Jean Luc Ponty, Don ‘Sugarcane’ Harris was the violin master of jazz-inflected rock ‘n’ roll. His association with John Mahall and Frank Zappa brought him into the limelight, but he also played and recorded with John Lee Hooker, Little Richard and the man who gave him the nickname ‘Sugarcane’, rhythm & blues legend Johnny Otis. L.A. guitarist Randy Resnick reminisced about 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...”
Although Don “Sugarcane” Harris played and recorded with a slew of blues and rock ‘n’ roll greats, his recordings under his own name were surprisingly limited. Thankfully for the listener and music history, MPS had sense enough to record what turned out to be the lion’s share. Keep On Driving was his Black Forest first, and what a debut! On hand are Volker Kriegel, already Germany’s number one guitarist, John Taylor, the greatest English jazz keyboardist of his generation, and English drummer Tony Oxley, whose playing credentials range from Sonny Rollins to Evan Parker. All compositions are by Sugarcane, with Taylor on electric piano and Harris on Fender bass before overdubbing his violin parts. The rocking Keep On Driving features Kriegel’s funky guitar and a jazzy exploratory solo by Taylor, with Harris sticking to the melody. Blues On The Moon goes extraterrestrial with Oxley bowing his amplified cymbals before Harris gets into a down an’ dirty blues. Which Way Is The Bathroom is a swinging minor key modal jazz masterpiece in which each band member solos, and they all shine. The smooth-flowing 6/8 tempo of Desiree highlights Harris’ romantic side and includes an outstanding Taylor solo. On the hard-swinging Almost Broke, all three front men have their say, and the down-home funk of Coitus Interruptus contrasts with the emotional jazz reminiscences of Remember The Past. Classic Harris combining jazz, blues, and rocking soul.