Harmonica Masters

Harmonica Masters


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Continuing the label's exploration deep into the early vernacular music of the United States, Yazoo Records devotes this compilation to some of the finest harmonica players of the 1920s and 1930s. Harmonica Masters features performances by harp greats like DeFord Bailey, Noah Lewis, Jed Davenport, Jaybird Coleman, and 19 others. The smallest and therefore most portable of instruments, the harmonica took a place not unlike that of the violin in blues and jug band combos. As the musicians here demonstrate, it can also be a fine solo instrument. In the hands of an expert, the harmonic and melodic musical elements mesh so perfectly, it can sound as if they are occurring at the same time. In fact, they are being swapped at such a pace that the absence of neither is very noticeable at any given time. Alfred Lewis' fine playing is overshadowed only by his otherworldly falsetto on "Mississippi Swamp Moan." It takes on such a bizarre quality that it sounds more like an instrument than a voice and is matched beautifully with responsive harp lines. At the opposite extreme, "Touch Me Light Mama" is a wonderfully raw blues piece featuring George "Bullet" Williams' earthy baritone. Whatever Williams and his accompanist lack in technique, they make up for in the visceral quality of their unguarded performance. Gwen Foster's "Wilks County Blues" is an astonishing, vibrato-laden showcase of the musician's harmonica powers, reaching the upper registers of the instrument. On "Chickasaw Special," Noah Lewis expertly imitates the sounds of a train -- an example of a performance style probably introduced by Williams McCoy. From novelty to dance music to deep blues, from accompanist to soloist, Harmonica Masters demonstrates the fascinating tonal and musical possibilities of this underacknowledged instrument.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/23/1996
Label: Yazoo
UPC: 0016351201928
catalogNumber: 2019
Rank: 64364

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sleepy John Estes   Track Performer
Hammie Nixon   Harmonica
Sam Harris   Accompaniment
Jaybird Coleman   Harmonica,Track Performer
Robert Carver   Guitar
Noah Lewis   Harmonica,Track Performer
Palmer McAbee   Track Performer
Robert Cooksey   Track Performer
Gwen Foster   Harmonica,Track Performer
Salty Holmes   Harmonica,Track Performer
Bobby Leecan   Track Performer
DeFord Bailey   Track Performer
Crook Brothers   Track Performer
Herman Crook   Harmonica
Lewis Crook   Banjo
Matthew Crook   Harmonica
Jed Davenport   Harmonica,Track Performer
David McCarn   Vocals
Nobel Carver   Guitar
William McCoy   Harmonica,Track Performer
Six Cylinder Smith   Guitar,Track Performer
Freeman Stowers   Track Performer
Clarence Ashley   Track Performer
George "Bullet" Williams   Harmonica,Track Performer
Alfred Lewis   Track Performer
Carver Boys   Track Performer
Ashley & Foster   Track Performer
Red Whitehead   Track Performer
Kyle Wooten   Harmonica,Track Performer

Technical Credits

Leroy Carr   Composer
Sleepy John Estes   Contributor
Sam Harris   Contributor
Palmer McAbee   Contributor
Muddy Waters   Composer
G. Williams   Composer
Don Kent   Producer,Liner Notes
Richard Nevins   Producer
Robert Cooksey   Contributor
Bobby Leecan   Contributor
DeFord Bailey   Contributor
Crook Brothers   Contributor
Joan Pelosi   Art Direction
Freeman Stowers   Contributor
Clarence Ashley   Contributor
Alfred Lewis   Composer,Contributor
Carver Boys   Contributor
Ashley & Foster   Contributor
Traditional   Composer
Bubbling Over Five   Contributor

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