Nico Wayne Toussaint ‘Plays James Cotton’ (Dixiefrog) 4/5

James Cotton was a Chicago and Delta blues musician who achieved a peak of popularity in the 1970s when he was already in his forties and came to fame, deputising for harmonica player Little Walter in Muddy Water’s band. Indeed, it was Cotton who suggested to Muddy that he add a new song to his repertoire: ‘Got My Mojo Working’. This became his signature tune. Cotton featured on a classic three-volume set from the 1960s, ‘Chicago Blues Today!’.

Taking an eight month break from music altogether in French Guyana, vocalist and harmonica player Nico Wayne Toussaint came back duly refreshed and sufficiently enthused to devote an album to the music and spirit of James Cotton, even though just five of the thirteen songs are actually composed by Cotton. Surrounded by an eight piece French band with vocalist Boney Field on hand, the music has a live audience feel (though this may actually have been added). Toussaint excels on the mid-tempo ‘Hard Time Blues’, with lovely clipped guitar work and New Orleans style piano from David Maxwell. In fact soul-blues of the New Orleans variety surfaces once more on ‘Hot ‘n’ Cold’, with fine collective harmonies. More closely in keeping with Cotton is the fast-paced ‘Rocket 88’, with a catchy guitar riff.

Bilingual English and French sleeve notes and the usual attention to detail with an illustrative pull out gatefold sleeve.

Tim Stenhouse