[Harp-L] Afro-American chrom players

George Miklas harmonicat@xxxxx
Sun May 30 13:25:13 EDT 2021

Dr. Saïs Kamalidiin is an African-American chromatic harmonica player. He
is the flute professor at Howard University, where he also has organized a
student harmonica ensemble named Chrome Noir. It has been my pleasure to
collaborate with Dr. Kamalidiin on past projects, as well as a current
collaboration on Baroque duets for two chromatic harmonicas.

*George Miklas <http://www.georgemiklas.com/>, **Harmonica Specialist; *
*Scholar, **Educator, **Performer, Repair Technician; Harmonica Bands,
Harmonica Concerti *
*GeorgeMiklas <http://www.georgemiklas.com/> ** HarmonicaGallery
<http://www.harmonicagallery.com/> **Sales
<http://sales.harmonicagallery.com/> & **Repair

On Sun, May 30, 2021 at 1:16 AM Rick Dempster <rickdempster33 at xxxxx>

> Almost impossible to use words that don't offend anyone these days!
> (Referring to 'subject' here)
> Anyway, having taken up the chromatic harp only in the last four years or
> so (only messed around with it before) I have frequently pondered the fact
> that I did not take it up, because, generally speaking, it didn't appeal to
> me. That's not to say I haven't appreciated some chrom playing over the
> years, but the only one that really pressed my buttons (no pun intended!)
> was Stevie Wonder. That is not because I dislike jazz (which is where the
> chrome usually finds a home) and am attracted to Stevie's pop-soul only,
> but because of his particular attack, which makes it, for me, a very
> 'human' sound, with every note shaped in a particular way.
> You could say Larry Adler shapes his notes, but to me, Adler's playing
> sounds overly dramatic, and, sorry, corny, no matter how technically good
> it is.
> I also felt that in imitating Stevie (as I have heard a few people try) you
> just end up sounding like a poor imitation.
> Then recently, it occured to me that Stevie is the only Afro-American
> chromatic player I have ever heard of.
> I know Walter and George Smith and other blues players use it in 3rd
> position, no button; that is not chromatic playing, really.
> I think the chrom does not appear in older jazz, or R'n'B because it is not
> loud enough, and even amplified, the chrom does not seem to make it. It's
> just not 'brutish' enough, like an electric guitar or tenor sax.
> It is usually used in 'modern' jazz, and is popular in countries like South
> America and India, where the customary musical styles seem to suit it,
> probably because of strings being the main accompaniment, and the whole
> sound less aggressive.
> Stevie Wonder was using the instrument in a form of 'pop' (ie Motown soul)
> that is light and breezy. It is clear why the instrument works here.
> So then it occurs to me that Stevie is the only Afro-US chromatic player,
> and that is part of what makes him stick out.
> So, here's my question: who have I not heard?
> Thanks, in anticipation!
> RD
> PS So why did I take it up? Having messed with overblows for over 30 years,
> I decided I can't stand the sound ( I'm sure it loosened my fillings) and
> have been using customised Sub30s to deal with tunes that go VI-II-V-I and
> the like.
> Zombor Kovacs, in Hungary does the custom work; he's in Hungary, I'm in
> Australia. Why didn't I just take up the trumpet??

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