Paul deLay: deLay Does Chicago

Portland’s own harp hero, Paul deLay, traveled to the Windy City for his fourth cd on deLay Does Chicago (Evidence 26101-2; ).The results are superb, with deLay’s astonishing chromatic harmonica virtuosity highlighted against an earthy, old school backdrop provided by the Rockin’ Johnny Band. deLay’s trademark wit and slice-of-life observations are once again at the heart of his clever songwriting ability. Chicago’s legendary blues guitarist Jimmy Dawkins guests on the smoking instrumental “El Train” and on the slow blues “What’s Comin’ Next.” Vocalist Zora Young makes a star turn on the sly shuffle “Come On Home.” And on two jumped-up boogies, “Ain’t Foolin’ ‘Round” and “Great Big Kid,” deLay flies like an inspired cross between Little Walter and Toots Thielemans. No one on the planet plays the blues harp with the facility and sheer bravado of this big man.