Jumpin' Johnny Sansone
Crescent City Moon
Bullseye 9585
For about six months, New Jersey-born Jumpin' Johnny Sansone sang and played harmonica in Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters, taking Sugar Ray Norcia's place before Earl went all-instrumental. The Earl-Sansone edition of the Broadcasters did not record, though Earl can be heard on Sansone's solo debut, Where Y'at? on his own Shortstack label.

Crescent City Moon doesn't have much to do with Broadcaster-style blues. Instead, it's a lively mix of Cajun pop ("Uncle Joe") swamp blues ("The Talkin' Is Over") and Gulf Coast R&B ("Your Kind of Love").

Known for his high-energy shows -- he picked up the "Jumpin' " moniker after doing back flips off the piano -- Sansone sounds like John Hiatt when he's rockin' ("Destination Unknown") and Doug Sahm when he's bluesin' ("Please Please Me").

Those who have heard him live swear that Sansone, who's now based in New Orleans, is one of today's best harp players. Not much of that comes through on Crescent City Moon. A little Sonny Boy here, some Little Walter there. And on the title track he makes his harmonica sound like an accordion. (Or maybe it is an accordion -- Sansone's second instrument -- it's hard to tell.)

Louisiana guitarslinger Sonny Landreth appears on two cuts, including "Give Me a Dollar," Sansone's ode to New Orleans street dancers and arguably the best track. Tenor saxmen Joe Cabral and Derek Houston, both of the Iguanas, put their distinctive Tex-Mex-gone-berserk-in-New-Orleans stamp on four tracks. Sansone and the Iguanas share many of the same grooves. If you like one, you'll like the other.

Be aware that Crescent City Moon was recorded more than three years ago and, though it's certainly a worthy purchase, it's not prime-time Sansone. Hopefully that will come on his next one.

-- Dave Ranney

This page and all contents are © 1997 by BLUES ACCESS,
Boulder, CO, USA.