Bernreuther Bayer and Kossowska – United Blues Experience/ The Cologne Concert – Clear Audio 83049 180-gr. audiophile stereo double vinyl, 78:45 [www.musicalsurroundings.com] ****:
(Wolfgang Bernreuther – acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Rudi Bayer – double bass; Beata Kossowska – harmonica, percussion, vocals; Richard Bargel – acoustic guitar, dobro, vocals)
Blues has been global for a long time. Additionally the recording technology associated with traditional blues music has improved dramatically. Clear Audio in Germany has joined this renaissance, with the release of Bernreuther, Bayer and Kossowska/United Blues Experience /The Cologne Concert. Recorded live at Theater Der Keller in 2008, the German blues trio glides through a set of standards and original material. The concert was captured on audiophile vinyl.
Opening the evening is a Wolfgang Bernreuther original, “Midnight Sun”. With lead harmonica (Beata Kossowska), double bass (Rudi Bayer) and acoustic guitar (Bernreuther) the trio executes a drum-less rhythm (like John Mayall). Both Bernreuther and Kossowska deliver gritty vocals. Guest Richard Bargel (acoustic guitar, vocals) joins them on the traditional “Fishing Blues”. Slide guitar add a nuance to the jam. Bringing some attitude, “Bring Me Flowers” is up-tempo and Kossowska solos on harp. Exploring Delta culture, the group shines on a smoky rendition of Robert Johnson’s “Me And The Devil Blues”. Bernreuther attacks his guitar solos (not unlike Willie Nelson) with forceful notation. Bayer’s pumping bass anchors the music, and Kossowska amps up the harp licks. The acoustics of the theater enhances the auditory grain of the instruments. As the set continues, the trio seems to increase their energy. They are cruising on Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” as they lay down a Memphis-like groove (the hooks are catchy reminiscent of Booker T on “Green Onions”).
Bernreuther pulls put all the stops on the seminal Willie Dixon tune, “Red Rooster”. His vocals range from a soft whisper to piercing howls (and a bark or two). “Loved Another Woman” (Peter Green) has some nasty grooves and is a fitting tribute to late sixties Fleetwood Mac. Keeping in Sixties mode, “Hey Joe” (which despite one of the longest-running authorship disputes will forever be associated with Jimi Hendrix) is interpreted as folk blues with a deft acoustic guitar and harmonica runs. The ensemble is familiar with various styles of American blues. “Alabama Train” approximates the rolling, steady rhythm that would be expected of this title.
The musical quality of this 180-gram vinyl is outstanding. The acoustic and electric guitars maintain a rich, warm tone with precise clarity. Even the harmonica is devoid of most of the typical aural shrillness. The mix is adept, and the doublebass sounds connected to the guitar. When guitar, bass and harmonica are together the balance is dynamic. Overall acoustics are rich, especially for a live recording.
Bernreuther Bayer and Kossowsha/United Blues Experience/ The Cologne Concert transports the blues to an audiophile environment.
Side A: Midnight Sun; Just A Silly Love Song; Fishing Blues; I Want To Be Free; Bring Me Flowers
Side B: Rainbow Rider; Me And The Devil Blues; Listen To Your Heart; Help Me
Side C: Little Red Rooster; Hot Again; Loved Another Woman
Side D: Hey Joe: One Time For Love; Alabama Train; New Morning