Remember this name: Jay Gaunt. This kid can play at an astounding level in his mid-teens and he will be an absolute monster as he ages.
Gaunt is a protege of Jason Ricci (from SPAH - Society for the Preservation of the Advancement of Harmonica) and Ricci is listed as a producer on “Harmonicopia.” Before reading any of the press material, I was impressed by the level of restraint in Gaunt’s playing, yet puzzled by his choice of covers.
Once I read the press coverage and learned Gaunt’s age, I was impressed by his chops, and I found his choice of covers humorous.
On the second track of “Harmonicopia,” Gaunt and company produce their version of the Allman Brother’s classic “Midnight Rider.” When Gaunt substitutes a harmonica for Greg Allman’s vocals, it leaves the track with a bit of a Muzak vibe. Considering Gaunt’s age and prodigy it is easy to look beyond the Muzak vibe.
On Gaunt’s instrumental contribution “Catnip,” his slightly distorted harmonica line takes the lead, accented by the work of the Royal Horns providing counterpoint. Again, it is hard not to get a dance vibe from Gaunt’s assembled band.
For anyone who played in a school band, “Greensleeves” will be quite familiar. Though Gaunt manages to keep the main hook throughout the tune and stay close to the traditional, the up tempo back beat provided by Steve Potts (drums) and Lester Snell (Hammond B-3) add plenty of funk to the concert band standard.
If he can play like this at the age of 16, at the least we might have the next Jason Ricci on our hands or at best, we may have the next Sonny Boy Williamson. Since both Ricci and Williamson have given so much to the blues, I look forward to finding out just where Gaunt will take us.