Although Rough & Tough, the title of blues ace John Hammond's new solo album, comes from Jerry McCain's "She's Tough," it could just as well describe Hammond's approach to the blues over a career edging up on a half-century. Hammond prefers country blues that are raw, gritty, immediate, and practically redolent of Delta mud, his gruff, rugged howl dueling with scrambling, stinging guitar work and yielding only to the soulful wail of his harmonica. Although Hammond has been playing a good bit of electric guitar with a band in recent years, R&T is strictly an acoustic affair, recorded solo amid the exquisite resonance of a Manhattan church and released by Chesky, predominantly a jazz label. Covering the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, and Willie McTell, Hammond sounds every measure the classic bluesman, far more Clarksdale than his native New York City. Hammond's two originals slip right in among the classics, as does his fierce version of Tom Waits' "Get Behind the Mule." His major curve is a sparkling Delta interpretation of the swing classic "Chattanooga Choo Choo." (Photo by Jessica Chornsky)
Sun., Feb. 28, 7 p.m., 2010
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