Review: John-Alex Mason – Jook Joint Thunderclap
Posted on: Saturday, Apr 2, 2011
“Jook Joint Thunderclap”
(Naked Jaybird Music – NJBM-008)
The talented John-Alex Mason, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, first came to my attention with his previous release “Town And Country”, back in 2008 – a fine release, but topped here with his latest, “Jook Joint Thunderclap” – a collection of mainly ‘hill country’ blues stomps, but with a surprise or two along the way. The ten tracks on the cd are supplemented by two that are available via his website.
As well as himself on his ‘one man band’ rig and vocals and guitars, he has assembled a group of fine musicians including Cedric and Cody Burnside, Gerry Hundt, Lightnin’ Malcolm, Lionel Young, Andy Irvine, and from Guinea, a trio of players – Fara Tolno, Fasinet Bangoura and Alya Sylla – a radical departure from his usual solo format for recording.
The opening “My Old Lonesome Home” gets things off to a rousing start, a high energy stomper with John-Alex Mason on his ‘one man band’ rig and some great harmonica from Gerry Hundt; the following “Gone So Long” features a vocal and rap from Cody Burnside, and Cedric Burnside on drums, and killer guitar hook from Mason. The pace is taken down on the lovely “More Than Wind”, given a country feel by Hundt’s mandolin and the fiddle of Lionel Young.
The hill country influence returns on “Riding On”, with the African musicians featuring on djembe and balafon and Cody Burnside again handling the vocal and rapping duties and Cedric Burnside and his musical partner, Lightnin’ Malcolm on board here, on drums and guitar respectively. The much recorded and named “Rolled And Tumbled”, now in the public domain and originally credited to Willie Newbern, is a standout with great vocal, guitar and moans from Mason, and Gerry Hundt’s harmonica playing again of the highest calibre.
John-Alex Mason’s own “Diamond Rain” again has a country edge, and is driven by Lionel Young’s beautiful fiddle playing and the djembe of Fara Tolno. “Signifyin’ Monkey” changes the direction again, with a funky groove and some slashing slide on his Lowebow guitar. The stomping “Free” sees him back to the ‘one man band’ rig with just the djembe of Tolno for company to his ass-kicking guitar riff.
He turns to a Mississippi classic on Fred McDowell’s “Write Me A Few Of Your Lines” . . . himself and Lightnin’ Malcolm kicking up a storm on guitars, Hundt sparring on mandolin and Cedric Burnside on drums . . . a good time being had by all and I would imagine an absolute belter to catch live! The ‘physical’ release ends with the lovely and sparse acoustic song, “Whisper” . . . an ode to his wife, and just featuring John-Alex Mason on heartfelt vocal and acoustic guitar.
For tracks ‘0’ and ’11’ go to www.johnalexmason.com