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My new favorite instrument...jazz harmonica


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I've always loved the sound of the chromatic harmonica...from Toots Thielmans, to a lot of the melodic stuff Stevie Wonder used to do. You just don't hear a lot of it. I get a bit bored with the blues harp bit...I mean, I don't mind hearing a good blues harp player, but it gets a bit stale. I use a few plain ol' blues harps to blonk out some Dylan/Neil Youngish things on my solo gigs, but that's not proper playing.

 

But, today, on the way in, I heard some Karrin Allyson on the Lawrence, KS, (KU) public station, featuring Randy Weinstein on the chromatic...great stuff. I want MORE! I don't know if I'd be able to learn any of that, even the simpler stuff, but, who should I be listening to?

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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You should treat yourself to a Hohner 64 and never look back. You might like to listen to this band http://www.shapesmusic.com/ Tollak gets better with each new recording I hear him on. Also check out the SlideMeister group on yahoo. Lots of good players hang out there.

 

spam: I've only been playing chromatic for a couple years when I have the time. Here's me. (Be gentle):http://www.bellmusicproductions.com/clientdownloads/keephope.mp3 I did this for an opening to rev jesse jackson's radio show for a chicago market. The show is called "keep hope alive." My instructions were to do something kind of motown sounding, what's going on/stevie. I played all the stuff and my son,ryan, tracked me. (This copy has no VO on it)

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Be GENTLE??? That rAwKs!!! That's exactly the sound I dig. :thu:

 

A Hohner 64, huh? Any particular key (I know nothing about chromonicas)?

 

BTW...listening to Shapes right now. I could listen to this stuff all day...

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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BTW, there is no 'key' for a chromatic harp; they're all in C because they ARE chromatic. Unless, of course, you really wanted the Bb Tenor harp or Eb Alto... :D
Dasher - don't ask me about those other reindeer, all I can tell you is Comet's in the sink!
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Howard Levy is definitely the man on harp!

 

He was a customer of mine at GC in '91. I spoke with him at length while a keyboard rep. went to the store manager with a deal for Howard on a keyboard for the bus. As we waited he mentioned that another jazz keyboard player said a musician's technique was really something when he could carry on an intelligent conversation while playing in some intensely odd time signature. (Sorry, I don't remember which he said.) Of course, he was carrying on our conversation while playing the keyboard in that time sig. :D

 

Before he left I saw inside his suitcase of tuned harps.

 

Sometime between that meeting and the next time he came in, I noticed the chromatic harp in the accessories dept. When Howard returned, I asked him why such an exceptional harp musician as he was (is) didn't have one. That's when he demonstrated his overblowing technique to me, right there in the Pro Audio dept. After picking up my jaw I could see there was little reason for him to own a chromatic harp. ;):D

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Oh! BTW - Howard left the Flecktones during that time and I asked him why. He had children and didn't want to be on the road so much. Bela Fleck and The Flecktones was a great gig for him.. until they became famous and set to long stretches of touring. That spelled the end of Mr. Levy's regular place in the band.

 

More power to him for wanting to be there for his family. It's not like he was going to have difficulty finding session work. ;)

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Yea, I'd get one tuned to C at first, but there are several ways to have one custom tuned or different keys. The 64 is a great one to play. Also a CX12 is a fun one to own. Round 12 hole with a plastic body and a breeze to clean. It really cuts through on a live gig, too. Plays loud and open. Here's a little more info for you on tuning chromatics. http://www.brendan-power.com/
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Chromaticmeister Bill Barrett is a guy I used to bump into all the time (we even worked in the same record store for a day way back when; literally, a day; he came in the day before I got fired; it was a Music Plus -- I was happy to go. :D ).

 

He's a heck of a player; he can wail blues but his forte is on the jazzy side of the blues.

 

I haven't heard the album in the link below, but I'm going to keep my eye out for it...

 

Bill Barret, All Music Guide

 

___________________________

 

update

 

I decided to get proactive with it and just ordered it used over Amazon.

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Originally posted by fantasticsound:

Oh! BTW - Howard left the Flecktones during that time and I asked him why. He had children and didn't want to be on the road so much. Bela Fleck and The Flecktones was a great gig for him.. until they became famous and set to long stretches of touring. That spelled the end of Mr. Levy's regular place in the band.

 

More power to him for wanting to be there for his family. It's not like he was going to have difficulty finding session work. ;)

My dad worked with Howard Levy and had nothing but wonderful things to say about the man...he praised him a lot.
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Originally posted by Linwood:

spam: I've only been playing chromatic for a couple years when I have the time. Here's me. (Be gentle):http://www.bellmusicproductions.com/clientdownloads/keephope.mp3

Nice stuff Linwood. :thu:

bbach

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

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:eek::eek::eek:

 

I don't f*&king believe it!

 

I went to Howard's schedule a while ago. Every four years my highschool holds a huge festival called Focus On The Arts. Three or four days of no classes. Instead, the entire school becomes a showcase for National, local and student arts, both visual and performing. (In fact, the cafeteria has two large multipurpose rooms in which student bands play. Guess where my first gig was? ;) )

 

Howard held a seminar at Focus this year? :cry: I would probably have flown home to see that! (The festival is open to the public, too.)

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Wow, really good info.

 

I'm obviously going to pick up a Chromatic 64 in C. For one thing, there's absolutely no way a mere mortal like me could cop even 1/10th as many notes ( ;) ) on a regular blues harp as Howard Levy...and, for another thing, the tonal characteristics are different. I like the jazzy tone of the chromatic...

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Another very fine jazz harmonica player is Joe Messina. He is the white guitar player in the "Standing in the Shadows of Motown DVD. He was/is a great jazz guitarist. When Motown moved to LA he bought a car wash in Detroit and he took up the chromatic harmonica.

 

He mastered the instrument and even wrote a method book for the instrument. A very goood friend of mine produced a couple of CD's on him and tried to get the book published, but I guess there isn't big enough audience for it.

Jotown:)

 

"It's all good: Except when it's Great"

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Carlos del Junco has won both the jazz and blues categories on 10-hole harp at the Hohner World Harmonica Championships.

 

Some of the most elegant Chromatic Harmonica playing is by the late Larry Adler. Adler did a Gershwin tribute album beofre he died. Maurice Ravel alledgedly waived all royalties and fees to allow Adler to player "Bolero" anytime he wanted.

 

Paul

Peace,

 

Paul

 

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