Ron Sorin is not a name that leaps to mind when you think of the great tradition of Chicago harmonica players but from the first time you hear the overdriven tones of his harp on Lake City you know you don’t need to worry, he fits right in with the likes of Walter, Wells and Portnoy. It turns out that Ron has been a fixture on the Chicago scene since the 70’s lending his tasteful playing to the greats of the Windy City’s blues scene, even sharing a stage with the late great Hubert Sumlin. Many of these great musicians go to make up the Blue Coast Band, Ron’s outfit for this release, including the great vocals of Tad Robinson, Ken Saydak on keys and the great rhythm pairing of Marty Binder on drums and Harlan Terson on bass.

While the musicians may shine, it’s Ron’s harmonica that’s to the fore. This is definitely a blues album, not blues rock or Americana, it’s blues through and through. It is anything but one dimensional though with swinging jazzy numbers, Louisiana swamp groove boogies and Chi Town shuffles all making an appearance, and giving Sorin a chance to wail and show the diversity of his ability. Brilliantly no-one on the album overplays, not even main man Ron, the groove, song and music are the winners, not ego and that is a wonderfully refreshing thing, when Mark Wyrdra takes a solo on guitar he eschews the flash and, with BB King like economy, plays just what the song deserves. The shuffles from the drum stool are mighty impressive too, Marty has them all under control and it makes for a record that you can definitely groove to.

Production values match up with the rest of the quality on offer here, it’s a dynamic CD, not overly compressed or limited, vastly different to many modern works in that it isn’t wearing to listen to for long periods. The sounds are dynamic and well recorded, and the simple mix that has resulted is a beautiful thing.

If you enjoy great harmonica playing this would make a great addition to your collection, but equally as much if you just have a love of great, beautifully played blues music it’s worth checking out what Ron offers us here.

Lake City is released on Big Lake Records and there’s more info available from www.ronsorin.com

Ian Mchugh