Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 361 #405)

Hoochie Coochie Man - James Cotton!!!

Referring back to the straight harp discussions regarding Hoochie Coochie Man, Joe pointed out the great blues sound that is created by the guitar lick (with flat 3rd) and the bass line and harp lick (with flat 7). It’s a uniquely powerful combination that Muddy used to its fullest in creating one of the most memorable and lasting blues hits.

Joe then took a moment to contrast it with the sound of another 1st position song, Honest I Do, by Jimmy Reed, 1957. Unlike Hoochie Coochie Man, Joe demonstrated that this song fits the major pentatonic scale best. To improvise effectively over this song, Joe said “learn the melody until it is second nature and then ‘move in and out of it’ using the major pentatonic scale.”

Next Joe handed out new tabs for Hoochie Coochie Man as performed by James Cotton on the “Live at Newport Jazz Festival” album, July 3, 1960.

To our surprise, while this rendition paid considerable tribute to the 1st position masterpiece of the original, it was played on a “C” harp in 2nd position. Additionally, the harp lick matched the signature guitar lick (with flat 3rd) instead of matching the bass line (flat 7) as the original did. It was clear that it was a well-prepared performance since he stuck to the original theme very consistently and the second chorus was almost identical to the first.

So, the question was… why did Cotton make these changes?  Why a “C” harp?
  • Maybe he didn’t have a playable “G” harp with him - but the performance was too polished for that to have happened.
  • Maybe he didn’t like playing a “G”. In fact, at that time most professional players considered the “A” to be the lowest key they would use if a song required low bends.
  • Shoji asked if the preceding song in the set was also in “G”. The answer was yes. In fact four songs in a row were in “G”. 
  • Joe also pointed out that the “C” harp was a favorite in those days for some very practical reasons:
  • They had an edgy, cutting sound that worked well in live performances.
  • They were more durable, you could buy them anywhere “on the road” and yes, they were cheaper.
  • Could it be that after a long, grueling tour all he had left was a “C” harp?
We had a good laugh imagining what might have caused Cotton to play in 2nd position for that performance, but there is no doubt that the result was impressive.  Give the track a listen and the tabs a try. You might find that you prefer it as well.

Blues Fest Impromptu Survey:

Shoji asked everyone who attends the Blues Fest to take note of how many times they hear Hoochie Coochie Man being played.

Chicago Blues Fest!!!

Its Blues Fest week and there are more harmonica artists in town and more harmonica gigs this week than ever before. There are also more “after parties” than previous years – check out the YMM calendar for full listings. Note that each Blues Fest gig listing on our calendar contains a link to the City of Chicago website for any questions you may have about the event, as well as a link to a Map of the Fest that you can print.

Blues Fest week kicked off with an amazing night of music at SPACE Tuesday night with Joe and Eric tearing it up and opening for the #1 Living Blues Harmonica Legend, James Cotton.
B1 Blues Class Next Monday, June 16!!!

Our friend Bob Corritore will be here to talk about his new CD, “Taboo” next Monday night at 8:00pm. On this CD, Bob explores traditional and exotic grooves, moods, and melodies and gets to show sides of his playing never before recorded. Perhaps Charlie Musselwhite best describes the album:

"Bob Corritore's new CD is all instrumentals and each one is a jewel. He really nails the '50's Chicago Chess sound, but also exhibits modern ideas, which is very refreshing. The band is all top notch and perfectly sympathetic players… a dream team band. Great to hear some 4th and 5th position harp playing. I enjoyed listening to every tune and you can bet I'll be listening to them all again. Not many people can do an all-instrumental harp CD and keep it interesting all the way through. You've got a dandy CD here. A real treat. Thanks, Bob!"  - Charlie Musselwhite

Joe reminds us that Bob promotes the Chicago Blues style more than anyone. “He is totally immersed and tirelessly active.”

Shoji also pointed out that Lee Kanehira will be here to play keys with the B1 Band on Monday.  It'll be a great night and remember, all are welcome!

Class Notes
  • Thanks to all who've registered for this next session!
  • Thanks to Al Taylor for jumping in and writing this newsletter and putting together an amazing calendar of live music for you this week.

Morry Sochat & Shoji Naito At Blues Fest!!!

Don't miss the amazingly talented duo, Morry Sochat & Shoji Naito playing the Windy City Blues Society Stage on Friday from 12:30 to 2:00pm! Congrats guys!

- Al Taylor and Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew