CD Harmonica Masters (CD 170398),
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1. Ice Water Blues - DeFord Bailey
2. Lost Boy Blues - Palmer McAbee
3. Mississippi Swamp Moan - Alfred Lewis
4. Choking Blues - Kyle Wooten
5. Chickasaw Special - Noah Lewis
6. Pannsylvania Woman Blues - Six Cylinder Smith
7. Take Your Foot Out of the Mud & Put It in the Sand - Dr. Humphrey Bates' Possum Hunters
8. Don't Mistreat Your Good Boy Friend - Bubbling Over Five
9. Downfall of Paris, The - Murphy Brothers Harp Band
10. Touch Me Light Mama - George "Bullet" Williams
11. Booneville Stomp - Red Whitehead/Dutch Coleman/Red Whitehead
12. How Long Blues - Jed Davenport
13. East Virginia Blues - Clarence Ashley/Gwen Foster/Ashley & Foster
14. Goin' Cross the Sea - The Crook Brothers
15. Just It - William McCoy
16. Wilkes County Blues - Gwen Foster
17. Man Trouble Blues - Jaybird Coleman
18. I Want My Mama - Salty Holmes
19. Gastonia Gallop - David McCarn
20. Don't Let Your Head Hang Down - Robert Cooksey/Bobby Leecan/Leecan & Cooksey
21. Sisco Harmonica Blues - The Carver Boys
22. Down South Blues - Sleepy John Estes
23. Medley of Blues - Freeman Stowers
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 2019
Don Kent; Richard Nevins
Recorded in the 1920s and 1930s.
Personnel: David McCarn (vocals); Robert Carver, Nobel Carver, Six Cylinder Smith (guitar); Lewis Crook (banjo); George "Bullet" Williams , Herman Crook, Gwen Foster, Hammie Nixon, Matthew Crook, Jaybird Coleman, Jed Davenport, Kyle Wooten, Noah Lewis, Salty Holmes, William McCoy (harmonica).
Audio Remasterer: Richard Nevins.
Liner Note Author: Don Kent.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Clarence Ashley; DeFord Bailey; The Crook Brothers; Freeman Stowers; Bubbling Over Five; Alfred Lewis; Palmer McAbee; Robert Cooksey; Sam Harris ; Sleepy John Estes; Ashley & Foster; The Carver Boys; Bobby Leecan.
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. ~ Nathan Bush
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