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...”
Once again Don “Sugarcane” Harris teams up with his musical brother, LA keyboardist Dewey Terry, and German guitar giant Volker Kriegel returns to the band. On this album there are no overdubs as Harris concentrates on violin and hands over the bass chair to Gunther Lenz, who first made an imprint on the jazz world as member of the legendary Albert Mangelsdorff Quartet. American Todd Canedy, whose working credentials include Horace Parlan and Wolfgang Dauner, holds down the drum chair. Harris and Terry supply the compositions with a mix of jazz, funk, and blues. There’s a bluesy jazz feel on Free Zone, with Don, Dewey, and Volker all having their say. Q dips deep into the funk, with violin, keyboards and guitar. The hard backbeat and strong shuffle rhythm of Lila Faye propel Harris, Kriegel and Terry through some outstanding solos, while an emotive up-swell courses through the solos on Feel The Pain. There’s an upbeat feel on the jazz waltz Carlsbad, which centers around Sugarcane’s amazing violin pyrotechnics, and Keyzop comes off as a rock ’n’ roll instrumental classic. Great band, great tunes, and great solos – this rates as one of Sugercane’s best.