A few days ago I purchased and downloaded a really good recording called The History Of The Blues Harmonica Concert. It is a great overview of blues harmonica playing from before WWII up into modern times.
Put on in 2007 at the Harmonica Masterclass and released in 2010 it features a few great harmonica teachers.
Joe Filisko opens up presenting excellent examples of pre war blues including a great rendition of a train song and Lost John. many more tracks and then we are treated to David Barrett demonstrating post war blues and especially the amplified stylings of Little Walter. He also demonstrates Big Walter, George Harmonica Smith, Jerry McCain (one of my favorites) and Junior Wells.
Kinya Pollard performs a tribute to Paul Butterfield and Dennis Gruenling finishes off the night by giving us a glimpse of the future of blues harmonica (which is now considering this was recorded in 2007).
The playing on this recording is nothing short of fantastic and the spoken introductions before each track are informative. Overall, this is a fantastic album and should have a spot in every harmonica student’s collection.
As a harmonica player, it’s easy to get caught up listening to a few blues harp players. We all have our favorites, mine being: Little Walter, Big Walter Horton,William Clarke, Charlie Musselwhite to name a few.
If I only listened to them, I would certainly get fantastic lessons in blues harp but I would be missing out on all the great music played on instruments other than blues harp.
Listening to players of other instruments is an important part of learning to play music. There is so much to learn about phrasing, note choice, tone and many other aspects of playing music. In addition, by listening to players of other instruments, You will most likely be introduced to other positions on the harmonica and even specialty harmonicas such as the Lee Oscar minor key harps. I have them available here at my harmonica store : http://www.harmonicasongs.net/Harmonicas2.htm
So as an exercise, try taking a song you like with a laid back melody and a solo played by a trumpet, flute or saxaphone and figure out how to play it on your harmonica. Occasionally it might take 2 or more harmonicas to get through a song and that’s fine but in most cases, once you figure out the key and position to play, you’ll be able to play it using one harp.
By learning songs and solos played by other instruments, you will be learning not only a lot about your harmonica but also about the big world of music. Jam On!