Harmonica Masters

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Nathan Bush
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Nathan Bush
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/23/1996
  • Label: Yazoo
  • UPC: 016351201928
  • Catalog Number: 2019
  • Sales rank: 266,798

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Ice Water Blues (3:18)
  2. 2 Lost Boy Blues (3:23)
  3. 3 Mississippi Swamp Moan (3:18)
  4. 4 Choking Blues (3:12)
  5. 5 Chickasaw Special (3:20)
  6. 6 Pannsylvania Woman Blues (3:10)
  7. 7 Take Your Foot Out of the Mud & Put It in the Sand - Dr. Humphrey Bate and the Possum Hunters (2:48)
  8. 8 Don't Mistreat Your Good Boy Friend - Bubbling Over Five (3:17)
  9. 9 The Downfall of Paris - Murphy Brothers Harp Band (3:07)
  10. 10 Touch Me Light Mama (2:46)
  11. 11 Booneville Stomp - Dutch Coleman (3:29)
  12. 12 How Long Blues (2:54)
  13. 13 East Virginia Blues - Ashley & Foster (2:58)
  14. 14 Goin' Cross The Sea (2:52)
  15. 15 Just It - William McCoy (3:19)
  16. 16 Wilkes County Blues (2:54)
  17. 17 Man Trouble Blues (3:03)
  18. 18 I Want My Mama (2:50)
  19. 19 Gastonia Gallop - David McCarn (2:40)
  20. 20 Don't Let Your Head Hang Down - Leecan & Cooksey (3:00)
  21. 21 Sisco Harmonica Blues (3:19)
  22. 22 Down South Blues (3:11)
  23. 23 Medley Of Blues (3:02)
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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
The 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
The 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, Remastering
Robert Cooksey Contributor
Bobby Leecan Contributor
DeFord Bailey Contributor
The Crook Brothers Contributor
Joan Pelosi Art Direction
Freeman Stowers Contributor
Clarence Ashley Contributor
Alfred Lewis Composer, Contributor
The Carver Boys Contributor
Ashley & Foster Contributor
Traditional Composer
Bubbling Over Five Contributor
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