Stefan Grossman: Aunt Molly's Murray Farm/The Gramercy Park Shiek (2010)
This CD reissue compiles Stefan Grossman's first two solo acoustic records (an earlier release was a band effort). Aunt Molly's Murray Farm was recorded in 1968 and The Gramercy Park Shiek followed a year later. Both show the enthusiasm and pluck of a guy who has found his vocation and wants to share it with the world, yet doesn't quite have the ideas or chops to match his dreams.
Aunt Molly's Murray Farm is filled with competent blues and rags that show a distinct Davis influence, whether they be done with a bottleneck or fingerpicked. All are admirable representations of the genre without being too spectacular; the tunes are fairly straightforward blues (albeit skillfully played) with pedestrian lyrics. It's apparent that Grossman is on to something, but hasn't quite figured out how to make it his own. Still, there's enough good music here to make this an album of interest, especially coupled with the next record he made.
For The Gramercy Park Shiek Grossman picked up a better guitar and better songs. All of a sudden Grossman shows up some influence from the traditional tunes of the island and, when couple with the folk leanings of his previous records, he starts to create some beautifully realized originals. The two songs in the middle, "Gentle Joys, Gentle Sorrows" and "Requiem For Patrick Kilroy," are filled with interesting little licks and novel melodies. Even "Crossed Eyed Blues" shows a little variation on the blues format, along with some better lyric writing.
It was clear at this point that Grossman was going to be a significant player on the acoustic guitar front, and that his best days were ahead of him. While not the best Grossman has to offer on record, these early efforts show an eagerness and ragged charm that makes many artists' first recordings a fun endeavor.
Track Listing: Aunt Molly's Murray Farm; Foregone Conclusion; Religious Trainfare Blues; See See Rider; Delia; Sideways Nowhere Bound; Special Rider; Wall Hollow Blues; Cow Cow's 4/4 Waltz; Dallas Rag; All My Friends Are Gone; Number One; Boys, My Money's All Gone; Big Road Blues; Roberta; Little Rock Blues No. 2; Lena Anne; Hans Fried; Crow Black Squall; Gentle Joys, Gentle Sorrows; Requiem For Patrick Kilroy; Yola Blues; Not You Or I, My Dear; Mississippi Blues No. 2; Cross Eyed Blues; Irene's Lullaby.
Personnel: Stefan Grossman: guitar, vocals.
Record Label: Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop
Style: Beyond Jazz