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Wallace Coleman 

Stretch My Money
(Pinto Blue Music)

In a city in which harmonica players hold a lofty position among blues fans, Wallace Coleman is one of the best of the bunch. Coleman has faithfully reproduced the sounds of harp heroes such as Little Walter Jacobs and Sonny Boy Williamson and, in that respect, has brought a little piece of Chicago to Cleveland. Stretch My Money, Coleman's second album, coming three years after his self-titled debut, is not quite as forceful as its predecessor, but is still a worthy follow-up. Again, it's Coleman's virtuosity on the harmonica that carries the record. Six songs are originals -- four by Coleman and two by his producer/manager, Jody Getz. Coleman's offerings, needless to say, strongly reflect his affection for the old Chicago harp masters. "Shake Me" will stand with songs such as "Black Spider" and "Big Dog Blues" (both of which are from Wallace Coleman), some of the best in Coleman's gallery.

Although it's a mild surprise that there are no Little Walter-penned songs here, the covers are chosen with a good deal of care, as Coleman mines the rich work of Willie Dixon, and provides renditions of the underappreciated "Bring It on Home" and the obscure "Dead Presidents." Coleman does justice to Howlin' Wolf's often-covered "Who's Been Talkin'" and brings new life to songs by Earl Hooker ("Off The Hook"), Roosevelt Sykes ("Dangerous Man"), and Lightnin' Hopkins ("Mojo Hand"). Coleman is recording some of the better urban blues today; let's hope his next release won't take another three long years to deliver.

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