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Blues Improvisation
Blues Improv

Blues For Peace

Little Walter, Blues Harmonica Player

Little Walter

Little Walter, blues harmonica legend, played for Muddy Waters before embarking on his own blues career. He might have fit in just as well with the Count Basie Band (and lived longer too). Walter grew up on the streets playing for change and fighting anyone that got in his way. You can hear it in tunes like "Juke", his first #1 hit. (Maybe it's because his mom named him Marion)

The Count Basie connection isn't that far fetched. Little Walter approached the harmonica like playing sax in a big band. Often he played simple riffs along with the rhythm section, then exploded into a wild solo, only to finish with an out chorus of riffs.

The switch back and forth from mellow riffs to hard, biting solo passages calls to mind Miles Davis (who was also into boxing). Little Walter, the street fighter, had another thing in comon with Davis, he was brilliant at creating rich musical settings for his songs and solos. Like Miles, he had the best blues musicians to work with- Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Freddy Below and Otis Spann, etc.

Much more than just a sideman, Walter was an innovator when jazz was stuck in rigid bebop and swing formats. His use of pedal points, non-standard chord changes, and special effects on Chess recordings in the early 50's was years ahead of similar trends in rock and jazz music.

By Johnny Mayer.

    Big Walter Horton, Little Walter Jacobs: Sourcebook Of Little Walter/Big Walter Licks For Blues Harmonica  Performed by Big Walter Horton, Little Walter Jacobs, compiled by Tom Ball. For diatonic harmonica (10-hole). Includes instructional book and examples CD. With harmonica notation, instructional text, performance notes, introductory text, discography and black & white photos. Blues and Instructional. 128 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by Centerstream Publishing.

© 1998-2009 Blues for Peace Corporation. All rights reserved.

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