Holy smokes, this thing is crazy good. There’s a lot of chatter in the comments on Youtube about whether or not this is the first recorded instance of an overblow…


Holy smokes, this thing is crazy good. There’s a lot of chatter in the comments on Youtube about whether or not this is the first recorded instance of an overblow on the harmonica. To me this is like arguing about ornithology in a room full of birds. Never mind the freakin’ overblows, okay? This guy exhibits a fully formed jazz conception on the diatonic harmonica–the closest thing to Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet (the two most obvious contemporary reference points) that I’ve heard on harmonica. The pianist is obviously influenced by Earl Hines, which makes the connection to Amrstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings all the clearer. I intend to study this piece very, very closely; anyone who’s into improvised styles on the harmonica is well advised to do the same.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Robert : I love your music and writing. I am trying to learn tp play like Blues Birdhead and Rhythm Willie as well as the better known players. By big questin is about Don Les. I saw his yioutube video of him playing standards at the harmonica convention. I think he is playing 1st position. I don’t think he uses overblows. What do you think?

  2. @Peter: It’s richard, not robert, but that’s okay, thanks! Don Les definitely played 1st position diatonic with no overblows, just bends on blow and draw notes. There’s an annotated transcription of his solo on the Harmonicats’ “Harmonica Boogie” in my book “Jazz harp” (Oak Publications, NYC, 1980), which should shed some light on his techniques and approach. Regards, RH

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