Harry Manx/Kevin Breit - Jubilee Reviews

 

"If this album is any indication, Canada's new NorthernBlues label is setting a standard of integrity, engineering quality, musical vision, and album art that may serve as an example to those of us in the lower 48. I recommend this album to everyone - you'll love it."

- Josh Gordon
Music City Blues Bluesletter
Nashville Tennessee
September 2003 

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"It is very clear that the musicianship and chemistry of these two are on a decidedly higher plane than your average acoustical project. Jubilee is worth the ride and lives up to
all the hype seeping down from the Great White North."

- Bill McGownan
Boston Blues Society
July/August, 2003 

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"Jubilee is the title of an intriguing new CD from the exquisite pairing of Harry Manx and Kevin Breit, two quintessential "out-of-the-box" players.

"Two prior releases by Harry Manx have already taken the breath away from many a reviewer (including yours truly), and even drawn comparisons to such icons as Ry Cooder and Kelly Joe Phelps. Rarified company indeed, but talent pours out of Manx like water from a tap.

"The other half of this blessed union is Kevin Breit who has earned a fearsome local reputation with Sisters Euclid as an adventurous and oftentimes unpredictable player possessing a seemingly inexhaustible storehouse of ideas at his fingertips."

-Gary Tate
Blues On Stage
May, 2003 

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"Jubilee is another fine album from Harry Manx and pairing him with Kevin Breit was an inspired touch: the end result is that there is an extra musical dimension to the usual Manx sound... It has the Manx trademark style, but the sound is bigger and rounder thanks to Breit's bass and electric slide. That the electric instruments never swamp the acoustic instruments must be largely attributed to producer David Travers-Smith. The balance between mohan veena and resonator on "Raga Gujari-Jodi" is also pretty near perfect."

-Gordon Baxter
Blues On Stage
May, 2003 

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"This meeting of musical minds recalls the 1970s - '80s recordings of Geoff Muldaur and Amos Garrett: a soulful singer and quirky, blazing instrumentalist ranging across the pop and roots landscape ... The overall result is cause for jubilation among acoustic and roots music fans."

-Scott Nygaard
Acoustic Guitar Central
Spring, 2003 

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"Slide guitar and raga blues performer Harry Manx's first two releases on NorthernBlues were solo affairs. In addition to his own well crafted songs, the Isle of Man native covered material by Muddy Waters, BB King, Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Big Joe Williams and Jimmy Reed among others while tossing in the odd raga - utilizing the soulful 20-stringed Mohan Veena, created by his Indian mentor Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and occasional traditional number.

Then, in 2001, Manx met fellow multi-instrumentalist Kevin Breit at the Legendary SummerFolk Festival in rural Ontario, Canada and was amazed by the combustible way they jammed together at a workshop session. Sans rehearal, sans song list.

Which is how, a year or so later, this collaborative gem was recorded. The combination of Breit's oblique yet soulful plucking and appealinh instrumentals and Manx's world-weary vocals and Zen constellated fretwork result in a pretty rarefied collection of songs. In addition to roots-rock covers of selections from the Hendrix ("
Voodoo Child" with banjo and guitorgam), Doobie Brothers (a hipshakin' "Taking It to the Streets"), Danny O'Keefe and Sleepy John Estes songbooks and some eye-opening Fahey-like, haiku brief (Breit authored) instrumentals ("Curly Ray and His Brother") and "When Abbott Met Costello"). Manx contributes three autobiographical sounding originals. My favorites are "Funny Business" and an extended "Weary and You Run".

Vividly produced, recorded and mixed by David Travers-Smith at Found Sound in Toronto. One of those few projects that lives up to its title. East meets West blues at its finest."

-Gary von Tersch
Big City Blues
April-May 2003 

 
   

"Two idiosyncratic guitarists come together for an easygoing run through Hendrix, Doobies, and a batch of understated originals."

-Bill Wasserzieher
Blues Revue
June/July 2003 

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"Harry Manx needs no introduction to the regular readers of these pages. On Jubilee, his third outing, he pairs up with Toronto's Kevin Breit (known as a player with Norah Jones), Cassandra Wilson, and his own group, Folk Alarm.

As with Manx's previous albums,
Jubilee is a beautiful acoustic blues record - eclectic, soulful, and quietly addictive. Both artists contribute original pieces and a number of covers are thrown in for good measure, including 'Voodoo Child' and a disturbingly satisfying treatment of 'Taking it to the Streets'. On Manx's 'Funny Business', the dou works in some fine electric and slide guitar. Breit's 'No Particular Place to Be' is another genre-defying instrumental highlight.

Still, the gem in this collection for me is the traditional '
Take This Hammer' - the duo strip down to vocals, banjo, and mandolin and the results just shimmers. Manx's Indian influences are perhaps less evident on Jubilee than on earlier albums, but I think you will find Breit's jaw-dropping virtuosity and introduction of other influences more than compensates."

-Richard Thornley
Penguin Eggs Review
Spring 2003 

 
   

"A divine concoction. Two fantastic stringmen making magic."

-Frank Goodman
Pure Music
Spring, 2003 

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"Jubilee feels like a comfortable pair of shoes that you can wear every day of the week. Guitarist Kevin Breit and blues multi-instrumentalist Harry Manx met by chance when they paired up a folk music festival. I was there. It was amazing and I had to go on after them. I was as unaware as everyone else that these two, who were performing together like the oldest of bandmates, has just connected. Their CD, Jubilee, sounds as magical and spontaneous as the music they made that first date. Half avant-folk instrumentals and half old-time roots-blues sung by Manx (his voice is rugged and dreamy), I could recommend this CD to about 50 different people. As I tour and drive all day, I find it fantastic driving music. But like I said, you can sport comfortable shoes anywhere, anytime and be happy about the choice."

-Martina Sorbara
Chart Magazine
March, 2003 

 
   

"A fine acoustic record that's as varied and powerful as the music that inspired Harry Manx and Kevin Briet, from Indian ragas, traditional American blues, and folksongs that tell timeless stories."

-Eric Steiner
Cosmik Debris Magazine
March 2003 

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"Born on the Isle of Man, now living on BC's Salt Spring Island, Manx draws rich, Ry Cooder-like atmospherics from his laptop and East Indian slide guitar. Breit, an equally gifted picker from McKerrow, Ontario, whose credits include Cassandra Wilson's Grammy-winning "New Moon Daughter", has been winning converts with his Toronto band Sisters Euclid. Together they
offer inventive versions of Hendrix and the Doobie Brothers and conjure real string magic on their own mystical blues tunes. A pair worth rejoicing."

-Inside Entertainment
March, 2003 

 
   

"An intimate conversation between two Canadian string masters. One feels as if they’ve been allowed a seat at a Sunday morning raga performed by Westerners, as delicate as a lotus leaf and hard as a diamond. Manx wraps his wonderfully lived in voice around an impeccable selection of material. The opening take on Sleepy John Estes’ 'Diving Duck Blues' sets a mood that works well with both the high level originals and gems like Danny O’Keefe’s 70’s AM radio chestnut 'Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues.' Jubilee evokes the flavors of Lightnin’ Hopkins, V.M. Bhatt, David Lindley, Ennio Morricone and Bob Brozman. For those that thought the best duo recording of late was the Leo Kottke collaboration with Mike Gordon I’d recommend making room for this lovely recording in your collection."

- Dennis Cook
JamBase
February 25,2003 

 
   

"Jubilee is GREAT.....an excitingly original approach to roots music...."

- Bruce Cockburn

 
   

"A sweet and soulful two-hander from two of Canada's best known and most versatile roots guitarists, slide player Manx and Breit on acoustic and electric instruments, grew out of a more or less forced workship pairing at the 2001 Summerfolk festival in Owen Sound, Ont. Ostensibly worlds apart - Manx is known for his experiments in Eastern-flavoured blues, and Breit is an A-list session player who knows every lick in the book -- the pickers clicked, and the record that resulted, a sparsely arranged collection of folk songs, country-folk classics (their laid-back "Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues" is as fine and wistful a rendition as you'll ever hear), instrumentals and originals is a wonderfully appealing collection that's all the better for its simplicity, restraint and elegance. Perfect late-night or Sunday-morning listening."

- Greg Quill
Toronto Star
January 23, 2003 

 
   

"If you have listened to Harry Manx’s first two albums for NorthernBlues, Dog My Cat and Wise and Otherwise, you already know that this is a man not to be bound within the confines of a single musical genre. If you mostly listen to the blues, you might not know who Kevin Breit is, but if you like eclectic jazz singers Holly Cole and Cassandra Wilson, then you already know all about Breit’s prowess and taste on guitar (acoustic and electric). The latest NorthernBlues release is an unlikely collaboration between these two stringed-instrument players, titled Jubilee. No, there is not much blues here. Save for a beautiful version of Sleepy John Estes’ "Diving Duck Blues," nothing really qualifies as blues on this record. But between them, Manx and Breit play guitar (all sorts), banjo (normal and baritone), mandolin, mandola, mandocello, banjolin, cavaquinho and Mohan Veena, and since they are unaccompanied (save for producer David Travers-Smith doing percussion on two tracks), you get to hear every single last note, every string bending and caressing, every breath in the music. In short, this is the aural equivalent of a 10K diamond to a guitar (and other strings) fan. And who cares what this music is called? It may not be pure blues, but it sure has a lot of feeling. And check out the beautiful booklet, all grace and transparence, that goes with the music!"

- Benoît Brière
Blues Bytes
February, 2003 

 
   

"Gorgeous acoustic jams from two of Canada's foremost guitarists. Kevin Breit I knew from his work with Cassandra Wilson and Holly Cole; Harry Manx, even though he's been around a little longer, I didn't. Each commands the fierce loyalty of a small fan community, but this CD seems destined to reach a broader audience, drawing as it does from the same deep waters that made the 'O Brother, Where Art Thou' soundtrack such a surprising hit.

Manx brings blues authenticity and a sophisticated understanding of East Indian tonalities to his playing. Breit offers versatility and an imagination that consistently lands him just a few degrees away from whatever you expected to hear.

On a bunch of tunes, Manx sings his own smart lyrics in a rough voice that sounds like a bit like the young John Hiatt. On the rest, it's all hands on strings: slide guitars, banjos, Breit's tart National Steel guitar, Manx's Mohan Veena, a 20-string hybrid thingie from India.

Standout tracks: Manx's world-weary ballad '
Unmoved by Love'; Breit's solo closer 'Lastly Tender' with it doo-wop harmonies; and an epic jam on the Doobie Brothers' 'Takin' It To the Streets' that my colleague Brad Evenson had to listen to three times before he'd let me have my CD player back."

- Paul Wells
National Post
February 10, 2003 

 
   

"Harry Manx is a guitar whiz who’s played with Grammy-winning Indian musician V.M. Bhatt. Kevin Breit is a guitar whiz who’s played with Grammy-nominated, half-Indian musician Norah Jones. Jubilee, Manx and Breit’s first joint effort, musically mixes Far Eastern ragas and Southern blues. Manx did this on his own on Wise and Otherwise, one of my favorite CDs from last year. I love the Eastern-sounding intro that precedes Manx’s gentle vocal on the Country & Western chestnut, "Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues." These fellow Canadians crank it up a bit on Sleepy John Estes’ "Diving Duck Blues" whose smoky vibe suggests John Fogerty hunkering down with the aforementioned Steely Dan. And Breit’s sweet instrumental, "When Abbott Met Costello," would have made Django Reinhardt smile. Like Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban’s recent Mambo Sinuendo, Manx and Breit’s Jubilee creates world music that makes our world a better one."

- Tony Peyser
Santa Monica Mirror

February 5-11, 2003 

 
   

"It looks like NorthernBlues has hit another home run with Jubilee."

-Richard Bourcier
Jazzreview.com
February, 2003 

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"Barely three years old, Northern Blues Music continues to turn the music world on its ear with Jubilee, a collaboration between two of Canada's most eclectic musicians: mohan-veena and lap-slide guitar virtuoso Harry Manx and renowned session guitarist Kevin Breit. Manx's ethereal Indian-tinged signature sound and Breit's earthy, no-holds-barred bluesy funkadelic guitar pickin' creates a balance of yin and yang, old and new, East and West."

-Gallery of Sound
February, 2003 

 
   

"Jubilee is yet another example of the surprising elasticity of what's often
thought of as the most tradition-bound of musical forms, as envisioned by
NorthernBlues' President Fred Litwin...A fascinating disc and a warm and wonderful listen - what more could anyone
want?"

-John Taylor
Canadianblues.ca Newsletter
February 6, 2003 

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Four Stars (out of 5)
"Acoustic bluesman Harry Manx and guitar maverick Kevin Breit get together on
Jubilee -- mystical folk and languid late-night roots musings to soothe the soul. The two musicians turn out to be a perfect match: Breit's sharp, atmospheric fretwork is the ideal complement to Manx's mystical eastern-influenced blues, weaving and wandering its way through the rhythms with fluid precision. That they can transform the Doobie Brothers' Taking It To The Streets into a divine, slow-building instrumental tour-de-force is testament to the duo's interpretative skills. But the real highlight (apart from a rather startling funked up take on Voodoo Child) is the original Unmoved By Love - a gentle ballad featuring Manx's elegant 20-string Mohan Veena alongside Breit's gentle slide work."

-Steve Bayling
Express in Ottawa
February 6, 2003 

 
   

"The showmanship is untouchable, the energy is intoxicating and their pure love for music is inspiring."

-Jeff Hurst
Cambridge Times
January 24, 2003 

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"A pairing that seems obvious in hindsight was spotted early by Don Bird of Summerfolk in Owen Sound. A Sunday morning workshop there a year or so ago led to this remarkable CD. It was actually recorded last May and word-of-mouth news has whetted appetites ever since. They both brought their instruments, some songs and the recollection of how well that workshop went. Executive Producer Michael Wrycraft brought along producer/mixer/engineer David Travers-Smith to shape the sounds these two string wizards created. Together they have succeeded admirably in (re-) capturing spontaneous interactive playing. Fourteen songs, with Breit and Manx roughly alternating as "leader", mean you no longer have to regret not being in that tent that Sunday morning in Owen Sound. Jubilee seems mostly acoustic and instrumental, but has six Manx vocals and a couple of songs on which Breit goes electric for variety. In case you were wondering, Breit chose a National Resonator guitar to play opposite the Mohan Veena on "Raga Gujari-Jodi". "Funny Business" would be my pick, though, for a favourite from this CD, with its electric groove and effective vocal. "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" might seem an odd choice in this setting but then "Foxy Lady" on the last Manx CD was too and Breit gets to use his Wah Wah pedal to excellent effect. Both songs sound just fine. Wrycraft also created a stunning package for his project so you won't be able to overlook this one and for string instrument devotees, each instrument used is helpfully noted."

- John Valenteyn
Toronto Blues Society
January, 2003 


"Individually Kevin Breit and Harry Manx are two of the most compelling and original musical artists in the country. Together on "
Jubilee" they've thrown down a roots music gauntlet, creating sounds that are familiar yet stunningly original. This is music that will challenge a whole generation of artists to invest a new vitality into old forms."

- Bill Stunt
CBC Radio, Toronto


"There are moments on the
Jubilee recording that are a sonic revolution! What a cool collision of two brilliant artists."

- Derek Andrews
Music Programmer, Harbourfront Centre