Montreal’s Jim Zeller is a harmonica ace, a forty-year man with eight albums under his belt and a long list of session credits, principally with Nanette Workman, Boule Noire and the rock band Mahogany Rush. Known for his wild stage show, his albums reflect his taste for the unusual and unpredictable. He plays ‘an assortment of extreme and treated chromatic, diatonic and low diatonic harmonicas, both amplified and acoustic’. He’s joined by Jimmy James & Carl Dutremble on guitars, Marc Deschênes on bass and Bernard DesLauriers on drums. The opener is “Black and White”, a semi-autobiographical polemic on the power of music, Carl Tremblay duets. In the title song, our narrator sings that he is from another planet, one now destroyed, and that he’s not alone, quoting ancient texts as proof; he’s not human but desperately wants to be treated like one. It’s a powerful rocker with sound effects and a short chromatic harp solo. “Life is Good” is a tough Chicago Blues with James and Zeller soloing. Isabelle Godmer sings harmony vocals but maybe Zeller is hoping that constant repetition of the title will make it so. A fascinating song here is “Facebook Rockstar” in which he calls out that someone who is spending all his time promoting himself as a rock star on social media without actually proving it in real life – a grinding rocker. “C’est Long” is a Muddy-styled slow blues sung/spoken in French. Everything seems to take a long time, including this song at 7:13, fine solos, though, and another highlight. Another excellent slow blues deals with a wedding he hopes will happen: “Violins Began to Play” has an amazing harp solo and some topflight blues piano from Larry Cohen. The multi-talented Cohen directed the imaginative, must-see video for the title song that’s on YouTube. Zeller really gets to show off his chops on “Man with the Harmonica”, where he and the band take on music by Ennio Morricone. It’s a common perception that the harmonica is an instrument of limited capability but in Jim Zeller’s hands, that couldn’t be further from the truth. His songwriting is its equal, providing inspiration galore. His web site is www.jimzeller.wixsite.com.

July 2019 - Terry Robb
June 2019 - Kevin Breit