Apparently one of the best canadian harmonica players ; I've seen a video of his, and although he's good at blues and folk stuff, he really shines in his solo pieces, for which he uses electronic loops to create a background texture over which he weaves musical tales. Very interesting stuff.
Howard Levy is unanimously considered a pioneer of modern harmonica. He plays diatonic harp like a chromatic intrument and many say he formalised the overblow technique. I've heard him with Rabih abou-Khalil, Bela Fleck and in Trio Globo, and although the styles are different, Howard's playing is amazing in all those settings.
Richard Hunter is another innovator of the harp. He uses special tunings on diatonic, mostly on solo pieces. His compositions are often complex in structure, mostly inspired by jazz or even classical composers. His albums are not 'easy listening', but they really open up new directions for the harmonica. Check out his often updated site !
Veteran of the Muddy Waters band, Jerry Portnoy is a blues virtuoso who has played with the greatest. With the Legendary Blues Band, the Muddy Waters Tribute Band and Eric Clapton, he's worked a lot since Muddy's death, and has just realeased a new album and a very interesting sounding method.
|King's Harmonica Quintet
Classical music on the chromatic, it's not only possible, but it seems to be a chinese pastime ; a lot of the players who perform classical seem to come from China. This site presents a Hong Kong quintet with several full-length musical samples. There's five of them, so I'm putting up a logo, not a photo !
Pat is an excellent British player I met during lessons organised by the NHL. His style is very unusual and he has a thorough understanding of tunings and all other technical aspects of the harmonica. On top if that he's really nice bloke, always ready to give a few tips to a newbie like me!
Another net discovery. Paul deLay plays mainly chromatic and comes from Portland, Oregon. His great virtuosity is on par with his inventiveness ; die-hard chicago blues fans, move along ! But for those who, like me, appreciate style drifting, visit his site and order his CD's !
A fairly well-known player who performs with, amongst others, Roy Rogers and the Steve Miller Band as well as his own formations. He's very versatile and his style adapts to the musicians he's playing with. I've only heard one of his albums (R&B), a bit too countryish for my taste, but the harp is really good !
Very controversial and not best loved by many blues harmonica players, John Popper has nonetheless invented a new musical style and redefined the role of the harmonica in 90's rock. This site is that of 'Blues Traveler', the band in which he sings and plays harp. He's also guested for many american artists' albums.
Johnny Mars has been described as the Hendrix of the harmonica. He experiments a lot with effect pedals and other electronic gizmos. Personally, I didn't really like what little amplified playing I've heard... On the other hand, his acoustic playing is excellent. All a matter of taste, I guess...
Hans Olson is an american guitarist-harmonica player-singer whose inspirations are mainly blues ; he doesn't always stick to that style though. I heard about him through Harp-L and I hoped to be able to catch him during his French tour. Unfortunately, he didn't stop nearby...
A Harmonica player from Philadelphia, Steve Guyger seems to be considered one of the best by his peers. I got hold of his latest CD 'Last train to Dover' through a net trade and this guy has got a killer tone. His blues chromatic work is also real nice, very gripping stuff. Check it out of you manage to find it !
Texan Harmonica player Gary Primich is one of those harp innovators of whom we hear too little here in Europe. His style is Jazz/Blues and his musical talent has enhanced the works of other artists, especially the blues-rock band Omar and the Howlers.
This guy is mainly jazz apparently, on both diatonic and chromatic. His site has info on how to order his latest CD plus quite a few audio files. His chromatic playing sounds very sweet and sax-like on these, not necessarily to my liking but I believe that's a matter of taste. I love the diatonic track though (but then I would !)
One of my favourite harmonica players, Musselwhite masters the old Chicago tradition and at the same time experiments like no one else does. Understanding what position he plays on certain tunes is an interesting challenge ! This site isthe new official one and features lots of info, soundbytes and goodies to purchase.
Carlos del Junco is the guy who brings Howard Levy style diatonic playing into blues and other 'popular' styles. His first album 'Just your Fool' is very enjoyable even if the choice of material isn't hugely inventive, but the second 'Big Boy' really hits the nail : jazzy stuff, ska, ballads, a bit of blues here and there... Excellent stuff !
This UK emigrated New-Zealander has built himself a reputation as a virtuoso of celtic harmonica, even if he doesn't limit his skills to that style. He has also played with Sting and Ray Charles and uses strange tunings both on diatonic harmonicas and on chromatics.
Billy Branch is the disciple and spiritual follower of harmonica players like Carey Bell, James Cotton with a touch of Junior Wells. His style isn't hugely innovative but it is powerful and true to the master's tradition. He has several albums out both under his name and with the 'Sons of Blues'.
Is a French performer who plays traditional Quebec folk music on various harmonicas, mainly tremelos, all more or less retuned to suit the requirements of the genre. His site will enable you to hear samples of his albums and to get acquainted with his style. And it's all in French !
Harmonica player in the acoustic duo Satan & Adam, Adam Gussow's style is deep and lyrical. The site this links to features numerous musical samples, a history of S&A and tons of photos. In fact, the one I chose is non-representative because apparently it was the only time ever Adam wore shades on stage !
I don't know much about Chris, mainly because his web page isn't huge, but apparently him and Richard Hunter worked together in the past. The sample sounds like nice clean blue harp playing, and his styles range from blues to jazz to weird stuff, apprently. Check him out !
|Magic Dave Therault
a.k.a. Magic Dave is a regular Harp-l contributor and a pro harmonica player as well. Most of the people who have seen him have reported very favourably on Harp-l so he can't be bad ! Unfortunately he's only got one CD out and that's as a sideman. Let's hope we get more to chew on in the future !
This guy is unusual : he seems to have made to a relative mainstream audience in the US by playing classical on the chromatic ! Critics rave about him and he's even doing Christmas special concerts on american television ! He is also not modest (and that's an understatement) but probably worth a check.
Danny is bass harmonica player in the New World Harmonica Trio and the resident expert on bass harps. He's also very active on the net, through his important involvement in SPAH as well as his weekly list of harmonica gigs around the world. And to top it all, he's a really nice and helpful guy !
Here's another contributor to Harp-L ; Gary Green seems to frequent many musical styles, from rocking amplified blues to acoustic folk music where he makes heavy use of hand tremolo. On his site you will see his latest CD and hear samples from it. All you need to go out and buy the thing !
Vincent Bucher is a French harmonica player whose only web presence is... on my site ! So in a completely interested fashion I'm linking this to my own page on him. Vincent really is worth listening to so go check it out and mail-order his CDs through the links on my page !
Greg is a Polish harmonica player based in France. His style is somewhere between blues and jazz, and his playing is powerful and clean. He has his own web page set up at the above URL but you can also consult the page describing his style and album in my French harmonica players section.
Madcat is a harp player with varied influences and styles ; he played with, amongst others, Dave Brubeck ! He recently brought out several albums with guitarist Shari Kane as well as an 'experimental album : Madcat's Harmonicology, where all the band roles are filled by harps of various sorts. Weird but interesting !
Tom Ball is more famous in Europe for releasing methods on Sonny Terry's harp style than for his albums, and believe me, that's a real shame. 'Tom Ball & Kenny Sultan' are really a top rate acoustic duo, somewhere between blues and country. If you look hard you can find some of their stuff in Europe.
A singer by trade, Mark Dufresne is nonetheless considered by his peers as an excellent harmonica player and won the best singer and best harp player awards 97 of the Washington Blues Society. The soundbytes from his site are appetising ; I might be able to find his CDs in France... and pigs might fly, too !
It is inevitable, even today, that people link harmonica and blues. And yet some artists remind us regularly that the harp can be used in other contexts, as Mitt Gamon does. His style seems to me to be inspired by the Vamvet Undergroud and similar bands, end even though I'm no specialist, it sounds interesting.
Mark Lavoie is a canadian harp player who probably plays (I haven't heard him) in a Sonny Terry like style since he was one of the disciples of this giant amongst harp players. He's also the inventor and producer of the titanium combs, who experts describe as awesome. Check him out if you're interested.
Patrick Hazell plays harmonica and piano, and furthermore, plays them both at the same time. This 'one-man band' has many CDs realeased to his name. They haven't crossed the atlantic yet, though... His site features many tracks in mp3 format, excellent sound standard. His 'Sound tracks' album sounds especially interesting to me...
|Greg Fingers Taylor
Fairly famous diatonic player, Greg Fingers Taylor has a very clear Rock n' roll vein, sort of a harp playing Jerry Lee Lewis, at least from what little I've heard. His site features loads of photographs and a few sound samples both in a blues and in a rock style.
Dave Gage puts forward a 90's Rock/Heavy Metal approach rather than a bluesy one, although his style doesn't depart as radically from blues as say, John Popper's. That being said, the music samples on his site feature a percussive and fast style that reminds me of classic american rock.
Not only is Rob a top rate harp player, but he's also a very soulful singer. His thing is R&B and his band, The Hudson River Rats, sure know some about that. They have released one album (First Take) which is really exceptional and a live tape. As far as I'm aware you can only get that stuff from Richard Hunter's site.
Our national French Harp pride. He didn't figure on this list until now because his only web presence was my Milteau Page. But his brand new site is brilliant (and multilingual) you'll hear about many styles of playing, instruments (and even many different harp players) with nonetheless a strong Blues presence.
This chromatic player specialises in a brazilian jazz repertoire, and his album 'Intercambio' is really excellent. Damien really has got the brazilian sound nailed down, and integrates the harmonica in there really nicely. He's planning to release a second album of a more cuban style soon, and might even tour France one day !
I've never heard anything by Mike Stevens but here's what I know : He plays country and bluegrass, and according to those who know him or his recordings, he's the turbo boost of bluegrass harp, easily rivalling with the virtuoso fiddle or banjo players that populate these musical styles.
As you no doubt noticed, there aren't many women on this list. In fact there aren't many women in the blues harp business... Annie Raines is one of 'em, an excellent player who plays both a rootsy Sonny Terry style harp and an amplified style alongside guitarist Paul Rishell. Not to be missed.
Harp player and singer, Salgado has worked with many artists amongst which Santana. I've only heard one album which featured very little harp, and generally the musical style wasn't my cup of tea. That being said let's not judge hastily, I'll comment some more when I know some more !
An old Louisiana harp player, Harmonica Fats recently started an acoustic duet with guitarist Bernie Pearl. Their site unfortunately doesn't feature any sound samples, so I can't give you anymore detail. If I managed to get hold of an album, though, I'll let you know what it's like.
From what little info is available on this site, William Tang is the best blues harp player in Hong-Kong. I would've liked to hear some samples from his first album (sold on site) to verify that claim, but unfortunately there are none. Let's hope these will be added soon !
Harp Player and Pioneer, Corky Siegel emerged from the 60s blues revival, but he's now into Blues Chamber Music. I've only heard these experiments on the web site presented here and well, what did you expect, it's weird ! Opinions amongst other harp players and fans vary...
French Harmonica player Laurent Cagnon shines in his 'native' rythm & blues style featured in his main band 'Grand Canyon'. He also explores different harmonica sounds with a harp-street organ duo called 'Ruine-Babines et Manivelle'. You can also check out the page on my website that describes his works.
|Bruce Sunpie Barnes
Sunpie is a harp and accordion player from New Orleans. He carries on the cajun musical tradition with talent and a very impressive stage presence. His harp playing is deep and down-home, but perfectly suited to his musical style. I saw him live and that was good but haven't heard his studio stuff : CD distribution in Europe is scarce...
|Nico Wayne Toussaint
Recently discovered by the French blues scene, this young harp player plays a classic blues style but with a tone worthy of the great inheritors of the chicago scene, and an entusiasm and honesty that are really delightful. He has a web site in the works but in the mean time you can link to my French Harp Players page.
|Ironman Mike Curtis
Mike Curtis is a multi-instrumentalist with an unusual approach to playing diatonic since he plays on valved Lee Oskars, plays only C harps and uses the first 6 positions. He's got one album out and if you're looking for a different sound, you should check it out. You can't buy it Europe though...
This French harp player specialises in be-bop jazz. He plays in a duet with guitarist Nicolas Espinasse. His style is extremely fast and harmonically inventive. He has already released a tuition video and plans on recording a jazz standards album very soon.
Not only does this guy play diatonic and chromatic, not only has he played with the greatest of the blues and rock worlds, but on top of that he's a virtuoso of the mini 4-hole harps, reworked and retuned in zillions of different ways. I've read the ravest reviews about his latest CD but guess what : you can't find it in Europe...
Son of Gérard Herzhaft, famous blues critic here in France, David does not stop at being an expert blues harpist. He has played on bluegrass, jazz and pop albums as well as blues albums, and he is a very technical player. The link here will get you to the page dedicated to him in my French Harp Players section.
An unsung hero of the harp, George Butler is now in his sixties and is just starting to get the recognition he deserves. A contemporary of all the great blues players of the sixties, he's coming back to the scene with the re-release of his album 'Lickin' Gravy', unfortunately not easy to find in Europe...
Son of French bluesman Patrick Verbeke, Steve was born into the blues and plays a fat chcago style harp alongside several French artists including guitar player Karim Albert Kook. In the absence of an official homepage for Steve you can check out the one I did on him.
Piedmont style harmonica is not much practiced these days. But Phil Wiggins is an expert of that style, a sort of Sonny Terry with rough edges, as if Terry had stayed home and never been to the big city and its success. Wiggins plays a duo with John Cephas with several albums behind them.
Long-time harp player of Patrick Verbeke, Pascal Mikaelian has recently released a first album under his name and that of guitarist Claude Langlois. His swamp blues style is very nice and if you wanna know more, go and see the page dedicated to his works !
Few chromatic harp players excell both in the classical and jazz repertoires, but Larry Logan seems top be of that rare breed. His site is very well done and presents his recordings with several real audio samples that give a good idea of the Irishman's talent.
Olivier is a Jazzman from the Reunion Island who has 'migrated' to mainland France. He plays chromatic in a style reminiscent but not imitative of Toots'. He has played with most major French and American jazzmen and is soon to release his second album. The page mentioned here is the one from my French Harp Players' site.
Steve is a British harp player exiled in Germany. He's the creator, amongst other things, of the famous Steve Baker Special tuning from Hohner (SBS), a diatonic enhanced with a low octave. He plays with German artists (Abi Wallenstein) and English ones (Chris Jones) and is also the author of the 'Harmonica Handbook', the harp bible !
Diatonic player with a jazzy clear-toned style, Michel Herblin produced his first album 'Matin aux Pommes' and is working on a second one. He also plays on other French bluesmen's albums and is currently meditating on the contents of the next album in Dordogne. You can also check out the page dedicated to him on my own site.
Jazz harp player, Clint Hoover uses both diatonic and chromatic. I haven't had a chance to listen to the whole of his CD 'Dream of the Serpent Dog' but the one track I heard, 'Snake Oil' is superb. The harmonica 'community' on the net raves about this guy and it would be nice, once again, if he was distributed in France...
|Steven de Bruyn
Harp player in the Belgian band El Fish, Steven plays both chromatic and diatonic. His style lies in the land between blues and rock and one can hear influences of Alan Wilson and Sonny Boy Williamson II. The band is one of the best Belgian bands, and their music is far from a rehash of old standards : it's original and alive !
Dennis is one of those new generation players both on diatonic and chromatic. His sound is deep and he grooves like a sax ! His latest album 'Jump Time' features a band in the style of Louis Jordan's in the 50s. On this site you will find two tracks from that album in Real Audio and Mpeg. Guaranteed good stuff !
Harp player and singer in the Red Devils and then in 13 before dying suddenly in 98, Lester Butler played a red hot diatonic style : fast and furious, his approach was decribed by some as punk-blues and he has undoubtedly influenced quite a few blues-rock bands.
Creme de la creme of British harp, Paul Lamb has been playing with his Kingsnakes for many years now. Their style and repertoire are very west coasts, walking the path of the George Smith followers. My favourite Paul Lamb, though, is the one that plays a rural and stripped down style... A matter of taste...
Pat Ramsey started his professional career along side Johnny Winter in 'White Hot and Blues'. His style certainly has continued being raw and powerful, fast and blue. He plays with a classic blues line-up in his CD 'Live at the Grand' but a few tracks on his other release 'It's about time' feature very tasty horn & harp arrangements.
Skoller is a Chicago harp player who plays quite traditional, but in his own way. He has played alongside Jimmy Rogers and Big Daddy Kinsey before getting his own band together, the Matthew Skoller Band. He has recently released a new album entitled 'Shoulder to the Wind'
Mischo is a player of both diatonic and chromatic in a slightly jumpy blues style very much influenced by Little Walter. He has several records out there including one live album. He is quite often touring Europe, especially Belgium and the Netherlands. For the record, he is also one of the mentors of French harpist Nico Toussaint.
Do we still need to present James Cotton ? He's a veteran of the Muddy Waters Band, a bluesman famous for his own work and remains a monument amongst harp players with his hard-edged style that is instantly recognisable. You will find some info here about his history and future projects.
A harmonica player from Chicago, Rob Stone has been playing for more than ten years in the Windy City. He defines his style as 'neo-traditional'. His band features, amongst others, drummer Sam Lay, a vetera, of the Chicago blues scene who filled, amongst other seats, that of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band drummer.
American singer and harp player, Mark Graham is one of the most shining beacons of the celtic style of playing, alongside Brendan Power and a few others. He has a very humorous approach to music and, on top of his solo projects is a vital component of Kevin Burke's Open House.
A French harp player born in Corsica, Ange plays mainly blues-tinted country and he is one of the most amazingly fast harp players out there... He released his first album Harp to Heart in 93 and is now working on his second album in a more acoustic and celtic vein.
Based on the Opal Coast in the north of France, Xavier Laune plays mainly in the traditional registers of the harmonica : blues, country and celtique. He shines especially by his acoustic playing, very expressive and aerial. His two main bands are the Mojo Band (country-blues) and Distant Shores (Irish).
The top diatonic harp player in Poland, Slawek is one of the main promoters of the Blues in his country. He runs a blues show on national radio and plays a mean harp. Also he has worked a lot to flavour his blues with local traditional musics, and the result is both entertaining and fresh. Did I mention he plays a wicked harp ?
|Andy J Forest
Although American by birth, Andy J Forest is very well known in Europe, especially in Italy where he lived quite a few years. He plays diatonic with a kind of Louisiana lazyness but also a modern approach. On top of being a singer and harp player he manages to write novels and act in movies and commercials !
Foremost Diatonic player in Brazil, Flavio has impressive credentials : he studied the harmonica with Mauricio Einhorn, the jazz chromatic master in Brazil and played alongside Sugar Blue in several US shows. He is also the founder of the biggest Brazilian blues band 'Blues Etilicos'.
Jean-Louis is a French chromatic player who specialises in popular musics. In his early carrer he was part of one of the 'harmonica only' French bands that compared to the Harmonica Rascals and similar guys. Today, he has founded a chromatic school in his native Lorraine and he is still actively playing and recording.
Jens Bunge is a german jazz chromatic player who is considered to be one of the best in Europe. His style is inspired by be-bop although he plays more 'in' than 'out' as they say in the world of jazz. His tone is quite mellow, in a similar fashion to Toots Thielemans'
Reynhard is a diatonic player (and multi-instrumentalist) in Austria, and he plays both blues and pop. He is apparently on of the important session players for Austrian studios which has led to his appearence alongside many Austrian rock and pop bands. His style is rootsy and fast.
Fred is a young French harp player who has played and lived a while in the US. His core style seems to be a kind of countrified fast blues, but he plays in various styles including jazzy, reggae and country. He seems to be a promising figure for the next generation of harp players.
Mitch is an unususal player in that he favours diatonic tuned chromatic harmonicas (like the Hohner Slide Harp) and plays a laid back amplified jazzy blues. He has very interesting ideas, and you can listen to them on his mp3.com page.
Shakin Smith is a "traditional" kind of player, in the long tradition of the blues masters, but he has only emerged recently, even though he's been playing for a long time. He's a self-titled "Wizard of the Harmonica", the title of his first album, with Robert Lockwood Jr guesting.
Ian Collard is an Australian harp player who fronts one of the foremost Australian blues bands "Collard Greens & Gravy". Their sound is a raw and primal one, dragging the blues into a semi-acoustic post-rock thing, very mean and atmospheric. Well worth a listen.
Choo-Choo Charlie aka Charlie Williams is an American harp player in a classic blues tradition with a little touch of Louisiana style. Charlie plays mainly diatonic but a little chromatic crops in here and there. He has released two albums available on his website.
Doug is a harp player in the West Coast style who has been on the US circuit for years before moving away to Germany. He released his first solo record "Until we meet again" in 1993 and his second record "Get it while it's hot" in the late 90s. He's now based in Europe and tours with a new band, the Blue Jays.
Ben is probably one of the most innovative harp players around, not so much in the sense that his playing is revolutionary but in the sense that his music style is one that rarely uses harp : Ben fronts the Canadian band "Son of Dave" which is a kind of hard-edged sounding trip-hoppy electronica band. With harp. Wow !
Rory is best known for his part in the legendary three-harp band "Have Mercy" but his own musical carreer ranges far further than blues (and harp). For lack of a better category, Rory's music could be described as musically daring folk. His latest release "Mouth to Mouth" has been critically acclaimed.
Michael is an R&B sax and harmonica player who is a prominent member of the "new generation" of diatonic players, integrating the full chromaticity in their playing. He also plays the harp as part of a horn section to great effect. His first album "House of Cards" while not a harp album per se feature some great harp playing.
Craig Steward is a rock musician who plays, amongst other instruments, the diatonic harp in a most unusual fashion. He plays fast and clean, and has been featured on several tracks by Frank Zappa in the 80s. He is soon to release a self-produced album called "Perseus & Medusa".