PRESS RELEASE – REVIEWS
Chicago based guitarist/singer/composer Harry Hmura has released his new CD entitled, “All I Need.” Typical of his unwavering creative standards, its a sizzling amalgam of well crafted songs, prodigious chops, and soul drenched vocals. From the opening strains of the title tune, the listener is treated to a riveting mix of moods as Harry unleashes a torrent of juke joint tested solos and an effusion of harmonic lyricism. Aficionados of canyon deep grooves will savor the smoldering “Must Be A Sign” and the cautionary cooker “Stay Home.” “Amazing Hot Places is a high octane fusion romp. Harry’s high flying guitar takes you on an extra terrestrial voyage to the far reaches of Alpha Centauri then safely back to earth again. On the contemplative side, check out the bitter sweet ballad, “Dream Blue.”Nothing soothes the soul better than the aching lament of a slow blues solo. “All I Need” is more than just a pyrotechnical demonstration of finger snapping, hip shaking rockin’ blues, it is the latest chapter in the vaunted evolution of the Chicago blues scene. Harry Hmura is keeping those legendary fires burning. Larry LeKool Hollowell – WJCD Norfolk, VA
Guitar ace Harry Hmura arrived on the Chicago scene in 1979 as a very young member of James Cotton’s band. In the years since, he’s been on an eclectic musical journey. Some of his destinations have included two stints with Sugar Blue, a foray into fusion rock, the release of two smooth Latin jazz albums, his guitar featured on the soundtrack of the best selling video game Halo, an ambitious and beautifully executed concept album about (and
including) the great apes, and a 21st century return engagement with Mr. Superharp Himself that would bring Hmura back to his musical source: the blues. All I Need, in a way, is a culmination of all of this. On its surface, it’s a rocking guitar album from a virtuoso who’s still reaching. From the title track that blasts it off, to the shifting, well-developed
instrumental “Amazing Hot Places” that marks its midway point, to the slowed down intensity of “Dream Blue,” Hmura’s playing drives and builds with blues-fueled power, countering his straightforward singing and the keys, bass, and drums backing him.
On a deeper level, much of what Hmura has picked up over the past 40 years can be subtly heard on all nine tracks (eight originals) of this self-produced album. It has all become such a part of his DNA that it unpretentiously blends together – tightly winding around the blues – to form a unique, genuine, and highly enjoyable expression of who he is and where he’s at, even as he continues stretching forward.
– Matthew MacDonald
Rootstime Mag – Belgium
Harry Hmura’s new solo studio album was titled “All I Need”. Hmura wrote eight of the nine tracks herself. The power rhythm section that backs him up consists of bassist Brian Quinn and drummer Kevin Jrumz. With the title track, after the short intro by Jrumz, the album opens, very funky, captivating the listener and with only one big wish, the album. “Why Why Why” is an infectious concoction due to the repetitive vocals and “Give Em ‘to You” -exceptionally with bassist Darryl Wright- sounds very Latino. The first quiet intermezzo was named “Stay Home” and leaves some more room for keyboardist Damiano Della Torre. “Amazing Hot Places” is a melodic, sometimes somewhat psychedelic instrumental fusion concoction and “Must Be a Sign”, which he uses with a lot of wah-wah’s, sounds very Hendrix-like. “Dream Blue” is a bluesy tearjerker, “Friend of Mine” an uptempo shuffle that rocks contagiously and “Talk to Your Daughther”, the only (Alex Atkins / JB Lenoir) cover and closing a beautiful bluesy guitar improvisation.His name Harry Hmura may suggest a different, more exotic origin. Nevertheless, this music veteran, blues / jazz / fusion and rock guitarist started his career in the Chicago music scene. It all started for Harry when he took his first guitar lesson at the age of 7. But the fire was lit when, as a 13-year-old, B.B. King performed live and met after the show. That the fire of the blues was in him from an early age did not go unnoticed by Harry’s blues mentors. At the age of 20, James Cotton – the Grammy-winning “Mr. Superharp” himself and former member of Muddy Waters’ band – asked him to join his band. He toured North America with Cotton, while he continued to work on his sound and had the opportunity to play with blues and rock legends including Johnny Winter, Elvin Bishop, Dickey Betts, Roy Buchanan, Hendrix’s drummer Buddy Miles, Jeff Healey and Jr. Wells.
After the Cotton chapter, a new one opened as he began touring with Sugar Blue, another Grammy-winning harmonica hit from Chicago. Blue -who already recorded with the Rolling Stones- regularly toured Europe and opened the doors for Hmura as a young and emerging guitarist. It was in Europe that Sugar Blue and Hmura -as the only blues band and together with Dexter Gordon, Lionel Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie- started to play their groundbreaking music at the major jazz festivals: Montreaux, North Sea Fest., Madrid Jazz Festival, Paris Fontainebleau and Jazz Middelheim.
Hmura wanted to focus even wider and moved towards fusion rock. Guitarists like Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Lee Ritenour and Mike Stern opened other circles for him. To fulfill this ambition, he went solo and formed a band, Countdown. This new direction led to Harry touring and collaborating with smooth jazz artist Brian Culbertson, on whose first three albums he played, co-wrote and co-produced. As a Mexico lover, Hmura became friends with the owner of the Copenhagen Club in Guadalajara. He offered him a permanent invitation to play there when he was in town. He started as the frontman of a quartet and moved in yet another new direction. This can be heard on his first two solo albums, “Passion” (2002) and “Face To The Sun” (2006). His original, smooth Latin jazz compositions subtly indicated not only where he was on his musical journey, but also where he had been and where he would go next.
In addition to his very busy live schedule in Chicago and abroad, Harry Hmura can also be heard as a session guitarist on a host of albums and TV shows, including Dancing with the Stars, Oprah and The Late Late Show with James Corden. He can also be heard in the world famous video game series Halo: Combat Evolved, ODST3 and Reach. Harry also teaches guitar at Columbia College, where he is a part-time faculty member.
Harry Hmura’s new release “All I Need” is not only an amalgam of exciting blues rock, but shows what else Chicago has to offer in terms of inventive blues. Guitar virtuoso Hmura keeps the blues fire burning in his headstrong way in Windy City.