One simply cannot talk about people of importance to this genre without tipping the hat to the most masterful musician, teacher, musicologist, producer, folklorist and preservationist of the traditional blues. By now, Stefan Grossman is a venerated, iconoclastic and respected acoustic blues figure of mega-proportions. He came out of the vibrant Greenwich Village, New York, 1960s scene around Washington Square, where so many American folk and blues musicians launched their careers. His friend and occasional collaborator, Steve Katz, formerly of the Even Dozen Jug Band, the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears, once half jokingly told this writer: “There we were, all these New York Jews playing the black blues.” Indeed, the blues had a strong influence on young New Yorkers during the folk revival. These musicians, Stefan Grossman, Happy & Artie Traum, Danny Kalb, and many others, in turn had a powerful influence on the acceptance of the blues by the American baby boomer generation at large; and, they significantly helped to launch the folk, roots & blues revival, thereby reinvigorating the careers of many original blues musicians whose careers had waned.
Many people know Stefan Grossman as the paramount teacher and entrepreneur in what has become the world’s largest “blues school”, Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop. He is one of the most skilled guitarists in the genre, having been a student of Rev. Gary Davis in New York City. He also picked up lessons directly from Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Skip James, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and others.
Recorded in 1978, this is John and Stefan’s landmark first duet album finally available on CD along with a PDF tab/music booklet.
“To label John Renbourn an English-folk guitarist, or Stefan Grossman an American-blues guitarist, amounts to the same: nothing. Renbourn, who's best known for his Pentangle association and fine solo albums, has played medieval, early classical, traditional, blues, regional English folk and contemporary jazz compositions. Stefan Grossman, who's also cut a pile of solo albums, has played classic and contemporary ragtime, delta blues, boogie, and regional American folk compositions, among others. Yet the performers and last Tuesday night's capacity crowd at the Other End shared a single mindedness that makes one music of all this eclecticism: a passion for the acoustic guitar and its infinite expressive possibilities. The evening was not only one of the most musically exhilarating in my experience, but one of the most educational as well – a relaxed class on styles and technique and a distillation of British and American sensibilities...
...They included a few numbers from their elegant new hybrid album, Stefan Grossman & John Renbourn. The album is all instrumental, all – except for a Mingus composition – original. Though it's much more bluesy, lilting, and sly, it reminds me of John McLaughlin’s acoustic album, My Goal's Beyond, with its gentle-jazz whispers and dramatic pauses. If one has ever picked or, plucked, the album is an invitation to figure out new ways to contort the fingers. If one hasn't, the liner notes skillfully decode who is playing which guitar line and when, As the concert did, the album pulls together the improbable and comes up with a surprising complement, rather like ordering a measure of ordering mead to quaff with your hot dog. And why not?” – Jan Hoffman – The Village Voice
Track Listing: (click on tracks for mp3 sound samples)
1. Snap A Little Owl
2. Bermuda Triangle Exit
3. Theme from Charles Mingus' The Shoes Of The Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers
4. Luckett Sunday
5. Why A Duck
6. The Drifter
7. Looper's Corner
8. Luke's Little Summer
9. Spirit Levels
10. The Way She Walks
11. Woman From Donori
(All tunes except for "Spirit Levels" have been transcribed and included in a pdf tab/music booklet on the CD)
Review: Guitarists of a certain age will no doubt remember Kicking Mule’s vinyl releases as much for the finger-knotting tab sheets included as the actual tunes. Happily, those dense, spidery decodings are still here, in PDF form, on this welcome reissue of 1978’s summit meeting between two giants of the genre. The joy of these 11 pieces is found less in the melodic themes, delightful though they are, and more in the seemingly telepathic interplay of two masters as one goes careering off into left field, turning blues suddenly into raga or Celtic reel into jazzy ramble, with the other in hot pursuit. Somehow they always manage to find a way home. Exhilarating—and still crazy after all these years. – Acoustic Guitar UK