Harry Manx - Wise and Otherwise Reviews

 

"I picked up this CD not because of the dull cover, but because of the sultry sounds from a couple of tracks I heard.

To my delight, I discovered the rest of the album to be the same: a soft and smooth jazz collection, shot through with an unusual Indian lift via the Mohan Veena.

That Indian sitar-ish sound mixes with a blues acoustic guitar presenting a very mellow album that one can either listen to and get lost in, or just play and have as background to whatever it is that you are doing.

While no tracks really stand out on the album, it is much more a full collection that is best listened to the whole way through, but can be played in portions. The result is always the same: an easily attainable relaxation.

Harry Manx is a well-traveled man, or iginally Canadian, he has traveled around the world and collected a multitude of experiences in the process, which he says he uses to write his music. Here he brings together the blues - his heritage, and the unique sound of the east.
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-Alex Telander
The Long Beach Union
Californa State University, Long Beach
March 17th, 2003 

 
   

"... we can all be inspired by an artist audacious enough to mix such eclectic influences, proclaim that when he plays it 'it's all blues of one kind or another,' and then demonstrate both the chops and the integrity to make good on his claim."

-David Whiteis
Living Blues
December 2002 

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"The blues has been incorporated into many other styles, creating blues rock, country blues and more, but Canadian Harry Manx (who lived for 25 years in India, Japan and Europe) has come with a new hybrid that could be dubbed blues raga: acoustic blues played with the intricate sound, phrasing and rhythm of traditional Indian folk music.

Manx plays unaccompanied through
Wise and Otherwise, alternating on lap guitar, banjo, and an Indian instrument called a Mohan Veena. The song selection is typical of a modern blues album, with songs by Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison and BB King adding some familiarity, but Manx isn't a rote player of standard blues; the King cover, "The Thrill is Gone", actually comes as a medley with an Indian-sounding instrumental, "The Gist of Madhuvanti".

But Manx truly stands out on his own material. "
Coat of Mail" is well-spoken social commentary, and "Roses Given" breathes new life into the old "relationship as war" metaphor.

Manx is technically superb on his instruments, with the kind of soul and grit that can't be taught. In these contentious international times, it is refreshing to hear an artist bridge cultural gaps in such a natural, unassuming way."

-Kevin Oliver
No Depression
Nov/Dec, 2002 

 
   

"You might want to call it an acoustic, blues-folk, India hybrid soul experience. One reviewer called it "Bombay Blues" and another described it as "Ganges Delta Blues." If you want to label it, well that's cool, but hey - this is just fine music."

-Cool Papa
Blues Society of the Ozarks
September, 2002 

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"After 20 years of touring the world as a blues musician, Harry Manx finally reached India, where he studied with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and learned to play mohan vina, a guitar/sitar hybrid with eight plucked strings and 12 sympathetic strings. Now, after the promising debut of last year's Dog My Cat, he's back with the solo acoustic Wise and Otherwise, mixing ragas with blues as he shifts between vina, banjo, six-string lap guitar, and harmonica. It's a meditative, quietly spirited approach that's much more relaxed and fully integrated than Dog My Cat, as Manx finds new shadings to Appalachian balladry ("Death Have Mercy"), Jimi Hendrix ("Foxy Lady"), and B.B. King ("The Thrill Is Gone"). His own songs have grown smarter and subtler, and his playing has grown deeper and more soulful."

-Kenny Berkowitz
Acoustic Guitar Magazine
October 2002 

 
   

"We need Harry Manx. Wise and Otherwise is the indispensable followup to last year's brilliant Dog My Cat. And thank the stars and all above and beneath them, it's more of the same: absolutely brilliant blues guitar by way of the far east..."

-Joe Hartlaub
Critically Hip Music Reviewer
May 2002 

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"'Wise and Otherwise' achieves what great albums do: it takes you on a journey, and one well worth taking. It's a fine successor to Manx's equally compelling debut, 2001's 'Dog My Cat'."

-Michael Cote
Blues Revue
August\September, 2002 

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"Rarely has folk-blues sounded as hauntingly beautiful as when played by Harry Manx, a British-born Canadian who has been profoundly influenced by Indian music.

Manx describes one cut on this superb new disc, a medley of his own "
The Gist of Madhuvanti" and BB King's "The Thrill is Gone", as two ragas, one from Rajasthan ... the sound of longing and waiting for the beloved ... the other ... a raga from deep down in Mississippi ... nothin' but the blues."

It's a marriage made in heaven, facillitated by Manx's profiency as an acoustic-slide guitarist and his mastery of the 20-string mohan veena, a gift to Manx from its inventor, Vishna Mohan Bhatt. Ry Cooder's fans may recall Bhatt as Cooder's collaborator on a 1994 Grammy Award-winning album, and Cooder is as good a point of reference as any for newcomers to Manx. But while such comparisons may work to describe Manx's fretwork, the raw sensuality of his sound is all his own."

-Chicago Sun-Times
April 7, 2002 

 
   

"Of the musicians who dedicated themselves to years of respectful study, Harry Manx has emerged to offer an intriguing presentation...aside from Manx, the only other Westerner who ever played or owned a Veena was George Harrison. As both Manx and Harrison had an understanding and appreciation of his music, Bhatt presented each of those two disciples with an instrument."

-Barbara Flaska
PopMatters.com
June 20, 2002 

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"Given his multi-instrumental talents -- Mohan Veena, banjo, slide guitar, and harmonica -- Manx offers as much to the typical folk festival audience as he does to a discerning crowd at a blues festival."

-RJS
Sing Out
Summer 2002 

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"Truth be told, there are few blues albums that speak to me like this one
does. There's a deep emotion to this music that I find completely relaxing
as well as inspirational."

-Michael Allison
Music Dish
April 18, 2002 

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"The album is one man and his music and successfully merges two different music cultures into this wonderful sounding bluesy Indian hybrid music. This is acoustic music at its very best."

-Dave Thomas
mnblues.com
May 2002 

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"This album is good in random rotation on a CD changer with vintage Taj Mahal, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt and George Harrison. It is in a class with those recordings. I am very, very glad to have it."

-Arthur "LoveWhip" Shuey
NY Blues Society
http://daddyvoice.tripod.com
Spring, 2002 

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"...hauntingly beautful. With this latest addition to his catalogue Manx has produced a new take on the folk/blues sound that is as exotic as it is accessible."

-Charleston Post & Courier
March 14, 2002 

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"Pleasant through and through, this is an album with real artistic vision and merit."

-Tom "Tearaway" Schulte
Blues Bytes
April, 2002 

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"...fantastically innovative acoustic material."

-Mark A. Cole
Big City Blues
April/May, 2002 

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Album leaves reviewer speechless.

"Anyone who reviews records occasionally errs on the side of generosity, awarding four stars where three would have been more appropriate. Whatever. But now and again the sheer brilliance and completeness of an album makes a mockery of the whole ranking system. This is one such album.

Wise and Otherwise is Harry Manx's follow-up to last year's Dog My Cat. That was very good, but this is far, far better. Once again Manx mixes up acoustic blues with Indian ragas to produce a seamless sound that you never want to stop. Luxuriously but artfully produced by Jordy Sharpe, there simply isn't a false moment on the whole CD. Case in point: just listen to what Manx does to B.B.King's "Thrill is Gone" or Hendrix's "Foxy Lady". "If you only buy one album this year..." Well, you know how it goes. But seriously, music just doesn't get any better than this. No number of stars could do this CD justice. Just buy it."

-David Bright
FFWD weekly, Calgary
April 11-17, 2002 

 
   

"There's no one out there that sounds at all like Harry Manx, though I'm sure plenty of folks would love to be able to do what he does."

-Jon Worley
Aiding and Abetting
April, 2002 

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"Canadian acoustic blues man Harry Manx spent many years living in India and has developed a unique take on the blues that combines its traditional sounds with Indian influences. While Manx's singing and slide guitar playing is reminiscent of Kelly Joe Phelps, it is his use of the Mohan veena on seven of the 12 tracks that sets him apart. The veena is a modified arch top guitar whose 19 strings provide sounds similar to both guitars and sitars. The music is simultaneously familiar and exotic sounding.

Most of the songs are Manx's originals. However, he also adapts several familiar pieces including a gorgeous version of Van Morrison's
Crazy Loveand a haunting variation of the traditional Death Have Mercy(Oh Death)that is almost as deep as Ralph Stanley's. ****"

-Mike Regenstreif
Montreal Gazette
April 4, 2002 

 
   

"There are few performers like this around who can connect the dots between musical styles with such resonance and make themselves seem a part of them all."

-Chris Nickson
All Music Guide
Spring, 2002 

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"Guitarist Harry Manx mixes traditional blues with East Indian string and it works. The Canadian Independent Music Awards honored his debut CD, Dog My Cat, as Blues Album of the Year 2002. His
follow-up should garner Harry not only more awards but more listeners to the way he bridges the worlds of traditional blues and traditional Indian music, particularly on his covers of Van Morrison's '
Crazy Love' or Jimi Hendrix' 'Foxy Lady'."

-Eric Steiner
Cosmik Debris
March, 2002 

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"...I really favor the Harry Manx
compositions. He is a unique writer / performer... Recommended!"

-Richard Bourcier
Senior Staff Writer
The Jazz Review
www.jazzreview.com
March, 2002 

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