Michael Markowitz, aka Little Mike, has a new set of Chicago-styled blues "How Long," although his usual cohorts, The Tornados are not present. Musically there will be little surprises as Mike brings his harmonica, some piano and vocals to a mix of classic blues and idiomatic originals with varying studio personnel, but stylistically very akin to what he done with the Tornados.
The title song is the J.B. Lenoir classic, although Mike's rendition is reminiscent of that by Pinetop Perkins with whom Mike played with numerous times. The studio band is quite tight behind him, even at a breakneck tempo (perhaps a tad too fast) as on "Smokin'," where he sings about cigarettes gonna kill him and he can't quit no matter how hard he tries. There is a surprising take on the Bobby Timmons hard bop classic "Moanin'," with some twisting harp lines and nice guitar. His brisk shuffle "When My Baby Left Me," is followed by a feverish take of Johnny Young's instrumental "Slam Hammer." Other highlights include a cover of Eddie Taylor's "Bad Boy," where he adds rollicking piano behind his harp and earnest vocal, and the atmospheric "Not What Mama Planned," with some nifty guitar.
In an interview excerpted in the liner notes, Mike describes his blues as "deep, hard hitting and raw." Certainly there is little contrived here, just straight-forward blues that fans of Little Mike will be quite familiar and others will find to their taste.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the November-December issue of the Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 369). Here Little Mike is seen with the Tornados.