There have been a few knockdown amazing records lately by harmonica masters. Put Wash My Horse in Champagne (Blues Mountain), from Big Harp George at, or at least near the top of that list. George Bisharat’s big harp is a chromatic, an instrument that most harpers find cumbersome and difficult to master. In the hands of George it is nothing less than spellbinding...Top to bottom this is the standout recording of the year. Highly recommended.
[Big Harp George] remains an absolute master of the chromatic harmonica, blowing brilliantly sculpted, richly melodic solos and obbligatos throughout the 13 tunes that comprise the present disc.
The world is full of skilled diatonic players, but chromatic players are a rare commodity, and Big Harp George is a master, lilting over the comb of his instrument with an uncompromising ability to produce big, sweet tone as he runs his progressions, seemingly with no effort. And his lyrics are a treasure throughout. Pick this one up. Available through most major marketers, and strongly recommended.
George’s singing is better than ever and the band cooks from start to finish. Big Harp George proves himself one heck of a player as he takes the chromatic harmonica in new directions with this diverse set of originals.
A follow-up to his widely acclaimed ‘Chromaticism,’ Big Harp George (Bisharat) has another superb album featuring his swinging acoustic chromatic playing and natural unforced vocals full of feeling and humor...With ‘Wash My Horse In Champagne’ Big George Harp again has another winner of a recording. The mix of strong songs, a terrific band, solid singing and fabulous harmonica results in the stellar music here.
Well, before I even listened to this CD, I was snared by the title. After actually listening to it…well, top-notch! ... Having left the practice of law, Big Harp George has established a well earned place in the world of contemporary blues.
[Big Harp George’s] style, along with his writing and get-the-job done vocals, is very refreshing, entertaining, and intriguing. Although it took awhile for [him] to arrive, it’s great to be able to hear him now.
Big Harp George is to be commended for choosing this path in his creative journey. The sense of personal satisfaction revealed in this production speaks volumes for him, as well as the musicians in the sessions, who did a commendable job in maintaining the essence of the music intact, offering the blues a bright future.
This is some tasty stuff that I recommend sampling with a Napa Valley Chardonnay.
George Bisharat is not a typical blues man. A fine singer, a notable harmonica player and a professor and lawyer in California...[Wash My Horse in Champagne features] tough blues, swinging numbers, danceable R&B items – all are worth a listen.
One of the best chromatic harp players in the world!
George Bisharat is a 59-year-old Professor of Law from San Francisco and this is his debut. And what a magnificent debut it is. I haven’t been this impressed by a harmonica player’s national debut since William Clarke’s 1990 tour de force Blowin’ Like Hell (Alligator). Bisharat plays chromatic on most of the 12 tracks. There is an ethereal, jazzy elegance to Bisharat’s playing that most suggests the influence of Paul deLay and, to a lesser degree, Toots Thielemans. Other important influences are William Clarke and George Smith... Bisharat’s dry, laconic vocals are reminiscent of jazzier blues singers like T-Bone Walker and Mose Allison. The most pleasant surprise of 2014, Chromaticism is a must purchase for harmonica fans. Hopefully, Big Harp George can mount a national tour in the near future.
California musician George Bisharat is living proof that though you may come late to the party, it doesn’t mean you can’t still be the hit of the shindig. Bisharat, under his stage name Big Harp George, has released his debut CD at age 59 and proves that the final product was indeed worth the wait.Bisharat’s free-flowing, melodic accuracy and Paul deLay-esque harp approach (with a certain horn-like quality), make this disc much more enjoyable than perhaps your average harp virtuoso’s offering. Using a chromatic harmonica almost exclusively (hence the album’s title), Bisharat crafts an album that’s devoid of overly indulgent soloing, instead focusing on an analog-warmed postwar blues sound ... One of the most discriminating harmonica-themed releases in recent memory, Big Harp George is as subtle as he is sassy, making for an A-list debut disc several decades in the making.
San Franciscan George Bisharat isn’t your everyday law professor; he’s also a blues harmonica player. At age 59, he realizes his dream of recording his first album, furthering the West Coast blues tradition that identifies with the freedom and swing of jazz. Once schooled by the now-deceased maestro Paul deLay, Bisharat impresses with tone, creativity and control of his large, customized chromatic Hohners in entertaining originals and choice selections from the 1950s linked to Jesse Stone and T-Bone Walker (swing-era drummer Gene Krupa, too).
Excellent! [Big Harp George’s album Chromaticism] will definitely end up on my best of the year.
Born in the USA to a Palestinian father and American mother, George Bisharat made his first recording in 2002, playing harp on one track of the Otis Grand/Joe Louis Walker album “Guitar Brothers”. Otis invited George to contribute to another of his albums “Hipster Blues” in 2006 but it has taken a further eight years to see this debut CD appear.Why the delay? Well, George has a day job teaching Law at the University of California in San Francisco but has now set out to take what was always a hobby to a professional level ... In the sleevenotes George says that he aspires to play ‘locally, maybe get some invitations to festivals’. On the evidence of this CD he should expect rather more invitations as this is superb music, well played and produced and comes highly recommended by this reviewer.
This is exciting music. Bisharat has something to look forward to when he retires from his teaching career. This is the way the Chromatic harmonica should be played.