Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gary Primich is a Company Man

Austin’s Gary Primich brings his formidable harp technique and appealing singing to Company Man, another new release from the revived Black Top label. He’s joined here by guitarists Shorty Lenoir and Mark Korpi, with one acoustic track that has Steve James adding his formidable playing.

This is a mix of good original material with catchy lines and some less familiar covers. A couple of covers are from the Smiley Lewis canon including Hook, Line and Slinker, with some rollicking tinker toy piano and an acoustic version of Jailbird. There’s some nice harp workouts, The Briar Patch (with some fine chromatic harp) and Varmint, as Primich’s tasty playing is showcased.

What is particularly appealing besides his technique, tone and fluency, is that he knows when to lay back, and he exhibits finesse as well as power. Similarly, his vocals are richly and convincingly delivered without any artifice. The overall flavor, with string bass and tasty drums, is not too far removed from a number of similar efforts, including several from the West Coast by James Harman, Rod Piazza and the late William Clarke.

This is a fine album, although Cub Koda’s liner notes are a bit hyperbolic. Furthermore, as someone whose relatives died in gas chambers, I find his use of blues “nazis” to describe those who don’t share his views as offensive in trivializing the term. It is a word tossed around too freely and perhaps reflects a certain intellectual laziness.

This review of one of Gary Primich’s recordings appeared originally in the June 1997 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 222), although a few minor stylistic changes have been made. I likely received a review copy directly from Black Top at the time. Primich died in September 2007 and Old Pal Records has just issued a double CD of Primich recordings (many with Omar Dykes) Just a Little Bit More … which I will be reviewing and hope to post in a few days. Company Man is available from along with other vendors as well as valuable as a download.

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