I love it when albums that feature a good or great harp player hits my desk. I always fancied myself one day learning how to play at a higher level, but since that day, if it ever comes, is years away, I have to be satisfied by listening to others who can really play the hell out of the instrument.
Recently Jon Gindick’s latest album, When We Die, We Call Come Back As Music, arrived and I had to delay listening to it while taking care of some other business. Now that I can give it my full attention, I have to say that I love it from the first note to the last. He mixes styles nicely, ranging from old-school to swing to funk and even to some others with grace and ease.
Gindick also wrote all of the songs on the album and his lyrics are really very good. Aside from the harp and vocals, Gindick handles the guitar and he works with a great group of musicians, including Ralph Carter on bass, keys, drums, percussion, and backing vocals; and Louie Broussard on drums. Special guests include Chuck Kavooris on slide guitar for two songs; Brad Rabuchin on electric guitar; Ken Stange on piano and organ; Bill Bixler on saxophone and clarinet; Bobby Loya on trumpet; and Al Walker on tenor sax.
First of all, When We Die, We Call Come Back As Music has got to be one of the greatest titles ever. The lyrics are strong with a deep emotional attachment for those of us who have a deep connection to music. Think about it, when you leave this realm, by what song would you be remembered? I am hooked on his approach right off the bat.
Second up is Wishing Well, an old-school number that echoes a country blues vibe while moving the genre forward. I like the quiet lyrics and the softness of the song. Gindick’s harp playing is among the best, and it’s no wonder why he’s in such demand as a player and a teacher.
The harp and guitar bring us into Bird On A Wire, a slower tempo song that evokes a lazy afternoon feeling. The piano has a Floyd Cramer style and Gindick’s harp plays beautifully against it. He picks up the tempo on Ghost Dance, an exciting number with some very cool lyrics. We all need to dance to celebrate what we’ve been given and what may come. Love this song.
Gindick adds a pinch of funk to the next number, School. He manages to take memories from his schooldays and turn them into a song. While it’s obvious that he’s a master harp player, don’t discount his lyrics. He has a way of looking at the ordinary and turning it into a unique experience.
He keeps the funk level up on Maxine with some amazing descriptive lyrics. “She walks like Bo Diddley plays guitar” has got to be one of the best lines ever. While Gindick handles the old-school style beautifully, he’s also adept at putting together a song that makes you want to move. I’ll take more of both, please.
Walker’s tenor sax sets the mood for I Love You More, a late night bluesy number that grabs at your heart from the first few notes. The song is pure emotion and the instruments reflect the mood beautifully.
He picks up the pace on Mystery. The song describes the strangeness of connection between two people, yes, it’s a mystery all right. I like the swing tempo. While it’s a fun song, it definitely has a dark side to it, a hint of danger to entice us even more.
The next song, Jealous Kind of Guy, has a different rhythm, a kind of bossa nova that is unique to the album. It just goes to show Gindick’s versatility. His harp is still great and while it may not be for the purists, it’s a damn fine song.
The album concludes with Easy Come, Easy Go, a slow quiet number that gets under your skin quickly. It’s a beautiful number and the harp gives it sound like a jazz number from years ago. It’s sad and sweet and a wonderful way to bring the album to a close.
Gindick is a great harpist. He’s got strong vocals, and his writing is very good. Not to mention he’s pretty damn good on a guitar as well. The guys got a lot of things going for him and this is the kind of album that showcases him nicely. If you want to find out some more about him, there’s always his website at http://www.jongindickband.com/ where you can find merchandise, tour dates, and even arrange for a harp lesson.
That last one is something I want to try – he’s obviously one of the best.