Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 406 #451)

New Song of the Session - Got My Mojo Working!!!

It's time to study the classic from Muddy Waters, Got My Mojo Working.

Written by Preston Foster and first recorded by Ann Cole in 1956, Muddy recorded it for Chess in 1957 and made it popular. Little Walter had moved on from Muddy's band by this time and the official word seems to show James Cotton on this recording, but to most ears, this is clearly Little Walter playing. Nonetheless, there are live Cotton versions from touring that have killer playing on them and that show Cotton's version definitely influenced later players like Paul Butterfield - Live at Newport Jazz Festival in 1960 chief among them.

What is a "mojo" anyway? Well, it's black magic, spells, voodoo and as Muddy says:

"When you're writin' them songs that are coming from down that way [Mississippi Delta], you can't leave out somethin' about that mojo thing. Because this is what black people really believed in at that time ... even today [circa 1980], when you play the old blues like me, you can't get from around that."

Mojo is a fast, hard-driving song and commonly thought of as 24 bar with the bass playing cut time. Joe pointed out on the original recording that Walter sets up two different harp themes, one on the verses, one on the choruses and then of course there's a solo section that's different from both. Take note, accompaniment players, of the strength of crafting a song like this by repetition.

More next week as we delve into this great tune.

Class Notes

  • Thanks to all who turned out for the Paul Oscher session last week and special thanks to the many who purchased his CDs. Sales were great and that show of support continues to make class guests possible.
  • This week was the first class of the new session; still time to get yourself registered.
  • For those registered for the 8 o'clock Performance class, this eight week session will end with a multi-track recording session. This is your chance to get a tune worked out and well-recorded with the band, so spend time this session polishing something towards your demo disc! Remember you are definitely free to partner with others in the room if you need accompaniment, horn lines, or vocals.
  • Level III students - reminder that the handout Joe shared this week, Filisko's 18 Harmonica Insights, is available at his website - click the links to the two pages in the far right column.

CD Release - It Takes Three

David Barrett has teamed up with two other Bay area harp players, Gary Smith and Aki Kumar to release a terrific new CD, It Takes Three - Three Generations of South Bay Blues Harmonica.

This disc is dripping with that full West coast harp tone, incredibly cool arrangements and very unusually, a lot of sophisticated multi-harp harmony playing. David teaches this kind of horn-line playing in one of his books and now this is your chance to hear it in action and done well.

And, always the consummate teacher that he is, the CD is clearly labeled for harp players listing harps played and positions. AND, for the ambitious or curious, David is also making available a full Transcription Set of all the harp playing on the disc!

Great CD David, Gary and Aki - congrats and the blues harp world thanks you!

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew