By Bill Milkowski | Published June 2022
Harmonica ace Lee Oskar supplied some of the joyful spirit to the platinum-selling rock-funk-Latin-soul band War on their ’70s hits like “Slippin’ Into Darkness,” “The Cisco Kid” and “Low Rider.” Though he recorded a string of solo albums through the late ’70s and early ’80s produced by Sly & The Family Stone drummer Greg Errico, we haven’t heard much from him since. Until now.
The son of a Holocaust survivor, Copenhagen-born Oskar comes to terms with his family’s experiences on this profoundly moving musical memoir. Composed, produced and illustrated by the 74-year-old harmonica virtuoso, Never Forget represents a pinnacle in his career.
On the uplifting opener “Far Away Dreams,” Oskar recreates the twin sax/harmonica lines from his War days with partner Charlie Miller. His keening harmonica wails over the melancholy minor key theme on “Miracle Children,” then he takes a slow, deliberate approach on “Song From Mom,” a delicate piece dedicated to the perseverance, courage and quiet dignity of his mother, who escaped a death camp. The piece morphs into a rousing dance tempo near the end, suggesting optimism in the face of atrocities.
“Last Moments (Saying Goodbye)” is a brief, poignant statement, while “Liberty (An American Waltz)” is buoyant and affirming. A sumptuous version of “My Road,” title track of his 1981 album, closes the collection on an elegant note. Oskar’s triumph is a reminder of the healing power of music.
Never Forget: Passages Through Music: Far Away Dreams; Miracle Children; Song From Mom; Last Moments (Saying Goodbye); Never Forget; Liberty (An American Waltz); World For Peace; Son For Sri; My Road. (39:39)
Personnel: Lee Oskar and many more.
Ordering Info: leeoskarmusic.com