Saturday, November 03, 2007

Satan and Adam's NYC Street Smart Blues

Satan and Adam were a fascinating duo, bringing together veteran guitarist Sterling Magee and young harmonica player Adam Gussow. From working the streets of Harlem, New York City to touring festivals worldwide, the two first appeared on disc on the Flying Fish recording, Harlem Blues. I refer you to Adam Gussow's most recent book, Journeyman’s Road (University of Tennessee Press) for the recent developments in their lives since the duo split although with other fascinating discussions in this recommended volume of articles. Here is my review from the June, 1992 Jazz & Blues Report of Harlem Blues.

"Harlem Blues
is the debut of Satan and Adam, the combination of veteran guitarist Sterling McGhee (a veteran of King Curtis’ and other groups), and harp player Adam Gussow. The two can be found playing the streets near the Apollo, and the combination of Satan with his flamboyant (and oft-times unpredictable) guitar playing (while playing hit-hat cymbals, tambourines and a wooden kickboard with Adam’s fluent, jazzy harp. This isn’t polished music, but there is a lot of exuberance in Satan’s hoarse shouted singing, and they take several blues standards like Down Home Blues, C.C. Rider and Sweet Home Chicago and totally rearrange them, while also tackling a bit of Ellingtonia Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, with Adam taking a strong solo. Adam in the liner notes describes Satan as “Robert Johnson reborn as Parliament Funkadelic,” and it gives a sense of the excitement they generate. This music may not get very pretty, but it is quite gritty. Recommended."

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