||AMERICAN HARMONICA NEWSMAGAZINE
American Harmonica Newsmagazine
by Phil Lloyd, Contributing Editor
Clint Hoover finds jazz in Dream of the Serpent Dog
Clint Hoover has just released a knockout jazz CD Dream of the Serpent Dog, focusing on blues harp and chromatic. He is so good at each it is virtually impossible to determine which he plays better.
The album is so musical that it is only after listening to several tracks that his wonderful technique becomes apparent on both harps. The playing is so fluent that anything seems possible, that there are no bounds that confine the playing of mere mortals. This stuff is great.
He has this incredible tone, whether its on chromatic or overblow diatonic and the kind of fluid horn lines that horn players would steal from him. When Clint Hoover plays it conjures up the best of two worlds: Toots on chromatic and Howard on overblow-diatonic. Needless, to say, Clint has been playing for 24 years, so its no surprise he is good.
And while this is a jazz album, you don't really have to speak jazz to understand and enjoy it. Most of them are the kind of catchy tunes that you would expect to hear on the radio. This is an acoustic album, with lots of fingerstyle guitar in it, along with an upright bass and acoutic percussion.
This is one of those thoroughly delightful instrumental albums that you can listen to over and over again, each time hearing something that you missed the first time. All of the tunes are originals so those unfamiliar with this quartet might not recognize these tunes, as they were written by the group members.
The 61-minute CD has 10 tunes. While the tunes are original, many of the phrasings and passing runs sound familiar so listening to the CD sounds familiar, even when the tunes are not. But since the runs don't go where they are "supposed" to go, the music is interesting and exciting, never boring.
The first tune is Riptide (CBH 2016 chromatic. Song key: Gmi/F) which alternates licks with the harp and the standup bass and bongos for a light, happy tune that you could whistle. Almost evocative of Blusette by Toots in that respect.
717 (Super 64X. Song key: F) is a lilting fingerstyle guitar tune with the counterpoint of the harp.
Ripley's Waltz (Dream of the Serpent Dog) opens with an Eastern snake charmer theme (CBH 2016. Song key: A). Then it switches to an accordion sound and then bouncing single-note Sunday-in-the-park type of theme. Then it returns whence it came, via a bass solo.
Easy Dreams (Super 64X. Song key: E flat) evokes a "Fly Me to the Moon" kind of feel.
Tonguin' Groove (Super 64X. Song key: Gmi.), is a light swing, swinging down memory lane somewhere.
The Schlepp: (CBH. Song key: C), tends toward a bass solo, which is not unusual, considering it was written by the bassist.
Waltz for Warner: (Super 64X. Song key: G) is another variation on the jazz waltz, which could be an oxymoron, but actually sounds quite charming.
Snake Oil (A Golden Melody, 2nd flat position (aka B). Song key: G flat. has a slow, horn-like feel, right out of early jazz, complete with wah-wah effects, in an after-hours setting with lots of overblows and such.
Snake Charmer (Super 64X. Song key:Cmi.) is a song apparently more related to the human snake than the reptile.
When Harry Met Sal: (Super 64X. Song key: D/E.) opens with a few bass runs, before introducing the bittersweet harp line.