Uptown Cool Reviews

For its combination of songwriting, musicianship, and its relaxed, unforced approach [Uptown Cool] is clearly one of the strongest blues releases this year.
— Jim Hynes, Making a Scene!
This collection of all new, original material...is certain to place [Big Harp George] in the stratosphere of top harp players in the world today if he isn’t there already.
— Marty Gunther, The Groove
[Big Harp George] is, by far, one of the most unique, upstyle blues bands I have ever heard in my blues life... [Uptown Cool] is a must have.
— Tom Addis, Blues Palace Blog
Seriously fun stuff that goes the distance.
— Midwest Record Entertainment
Uptown Cool is a party album, and it’s even more fun because the vibe is so loose and the music flows so freely from these musicians who sound like they’re having a ball.
— Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Living Blues
Say hello to [Big Harp George] who ain’t kidding because he uses that chromatic like no other... He’s got a barn-burning band behind him filled to the brim with horns, guitars, and keyboards.
— Mike Greenblatt, rant 'n' roll
Modern concerns over a blues backdrop here is restoring blues to its rightful prominence in American popular music.
— John Kereiff, The Rock Doctor
George is a master of the chromatic harmonica, so there’s that. He’s also a wonderful songwriter with a biting wit as he addresses many topics that are well beyond the scope of traditional blues songs, so there’s that, too.
— Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes
Overall, Uptown Cool is a very, very good release from Big Harp George. If you enjoy the modern West-Coast-meets-Chicago blues of someone like Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, you will definitely want to pick up a copy.
— Rhys Williams, Blues Blast Magazine
...thankfully there is still a vibrant Rhythm & Blues scene in the USA with bands prepared to go out on a limb paying homage to the past but bravely writing and singing their own razor sharp material.
— Alan Harrison, The Rocking Magpie
Overall a terrific album, recommended for those who like their blues shot through with great playing, some references to jazz and Latin music and clever lyrics.
— John Mitchell, Blues in Britain
Big Harp George, on his new album, sounds like he’s been on top of things for a long time, so it’s surprising to learn that he released his debut CD only four years ago. He followed that with 2016’s Wash My Horse In Champagne and now with Uptown Cool, this new release featuring all original material, written by George Bisharat (Big Harp George). In these songs, he tackles his subjects with humor and style, and is backed by a great band... Yes, this is the blues, but there certainly is a whole lot of joy in these tracks.
— Michael Doherty, Michael Doherty’s Music Log
Big Harp George plays his chromatic harmonica with a dynamite combination of rhythm, pitch, intonation and style. He remains a mighty fine songwriter displaying a keen intellect.
— Randall Parrish, Vivascene
Big Harp George brings that big ol’ chromatic back into mainstream blues with the twelve originals of Uptown Cool. Perhaps more importantly, he brings a sense of humor into his music that is sorely needed in this world today.
— Don and Sheryl Crow, Don and Sheryl's Blues Blog
Simply stated this is another impressive recording that has a wonderful mix of grooves, wonderful playing, strong originals and heartfelt singing that should appeal to anyone with a love of real blues.
— Ron Weinstock, In a Blue Mood
The album is interesting, well written and George has surrounded himself with musicians of the highest quality including the likes of seasoned performers like Chris Burns, Kid Andersen and Little Charlie Baty.
— Steve Yourglivch, Blues Matters
[Big Harp George] plays a mean chromatic harmonica on his third album Uptown Cool and for his singing he can rely on his experience in the court and class rooms. His timing is spot on and he knows how to tell a story that can captivate (and convince) and audience.
— Hans Werksman, Here Comes the Flood
...it might be said that [Big Harp George] has made the world his own little village. He brings a lifetime of experiences to the table and presents songs that are imbued with a knowing, insightful wit.
— David Macmurray, BLUES JUNCTION Productions
George Bisharat is one of the more original singer and harmonica players out in California.
— Norman Darwen, Blues & Rhythm
Meat and potatoes that stick to the ribs are in abundance here.
— George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (7/16/18), Uptown Cool, from Big Harp George, and it’s tight.
— Bman, Bman's Blues Report
Big Harp George Bisharat is uptown cool on Uptown Cool. His talents on the chromatic harmonica playing are displayed.
— Mike Little, Beach Music 45
Very highly recommended.
— Malcom Kennedy, Washington Blues Society
Big Harp George is redefining the role of chromatic harmonica in blues.
— Marty Delia, The Blues and Roots Music Blog

Read more:

  • Jim Hynes review in Making a Scene!

  • Tom Addis review in Blues Palace Blog

  • Review in Midwest Record Entertainment

  • Henry L. Carrigan Jr. review in Living Blues

  • Mike Greenblatt review in rant ‘n’ roll

  • John Kereiff review in The Rock Doctor

  • Graham Clarke review in Blues Bytes

  • Rhys Williams review in Blues Blast Magazine

  • Alan Harrison review in The Rocking Magpie

  • Michael Doherty review in Michael Doherty's Music Log

  • Randall Parrish review in Vivascene

  • Don and Sheryl Crow review in Don and Sheryl's Blues Blog

  • Ron Weinstock review in In a Blue Mood

  • Steve Yourglivch review in Blues Matters

  • Hans Werksman review in Here Comes the Flood

  • David Macmurray review in BLUES JUNCTION Productions

  • George W. Harris review in Jazz Weekly

  • Bman review in Bman's Blues Report

  • Mike Little review in Beach Music 45

  • Marty Delia review in The Blues and Roots Music Blog

Reviews in other languages:


Wash My Horse in Champagne Reviews

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.
— Mark E. Gallo, Blues Bytes
[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.
— Lee Hildebrand, Living Blues
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.
— Marty Gunther, Blues Blast Magazine
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.
— Richard Ludmerer, MakingAScene.org
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.
— Ron Weinstock, Jazz & Blues Report
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.
— Steve Daniels, Big City Blues Magazine
[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.
— Matt MacDonald, Blues Music Magazine
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.
— James Nadal, All About Jazz
This is some tasty stuff that I recommend sampling with a Napa Valley Chardonnay.
— David Mac, Blues Junction Productions
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.
— Norman Darwen, Harmonica World

Chromaticism Reviews

One of the best chromatic harp players in the world!
— Fabrizio Poggi // Appaloosa Records recording artist // Italy
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.
— Thomas J. Cullen III // Blues Music Store critic
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.
— Mark Uricheck // Living Blues Magazine
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).
— Frank-John Hadley // Downbeat Magazine
Excellent! [Big Harp George’s album Chromaticism] will definitely end up on my best of the year.
— Bman // Bman's Blues Report // USA
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.
— John Mitchell // Blues Blast Magazine
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.
— Richard Ludmerer // Contributing editor at MakingAScene.org // USA