Featured SlideMeister Member - July 2015
Although I've never actually met Mr. Naiditch in person, I've always been impressed with the style of music he pursues as well of his flagrant disregard for what some folks try to say the Chromatic just "ain't good for." Yeah, right! :o) David Naiditch is a perfect example of a musician, not bound by perception, or afraid to explore aspects of our favorite little instrument's capabilities, whether or not anyone has tried it before; and with great success I might add. So, SlideMeister's proud to feature Mr. David Naiditch for the month of July.
David has been part of the Los Angeles music scene for many years. He started with the blues and eventually delved into other genres: bluegrass, country swing, and Django Reinhardt-inspired Gypsy jazz.
David's musical journey began in the early ‘60s, when he was tutored on the diatonic harmonica by the legendary blues icon Sonny Terry. In the mid-1960s, he taught harmonica at the Ashgrove, a club that was the focal point of the Los Angeles folk music revival. Years later, he taught and performed at other venues in the Los Angeles area, such as McCabe’s Guitar Shop, Boulevard Music, the Coffee Gallery Backstage, and Viva Cantina.
In the mid-’90s, David started focusing on the chromatic harmonica. He honed his skills by attending numerous music jams and gigs, armed only with a chromatic in the key of C. By playing in all keys, David became comfortable playing by ear and improvising in many styles of music.
In 2005, David produced and played harmonica and guitar on his first CD, Harmonica and Guitar Duets, which covers diverse types of music, including blues, swing, Klezmer, ragtime, and country. In 2008, he produced the CD, High Desert Bluegrass Sessions, with bluegrass greats, banjoist Pat Cloud, guitarist Eric Uglum, fiddler Christian Ward, and bassist Austin Ward. In 2010, he released Bluegrass Harmonica that features his harmonica, and includes virtuoso breaks by Pat Cloud, Eric Uglum, and guitarist Steve Trovato. In 2012, he released Douce Ambiance: Gypsy Jazz Classics, featuring his jazz harmonica with the fiery guitar lines of Gonzalo Bergara, and the jazz 5-string banjo playing of Pat Cloud. In 2014, he released the instrumental CD, Bluegrass in the Backwoods, featuring virtuosos Rob Ickes, Stuart Duncan, Ron Block, Dennis Caplinger, Sierra Hull, Christian Ward, Jake Workman, and others.
About Bluegrass Harmonica
David once half-jokingly remarked that harmonica players are about as welcome at bluegrass jams as the mosquitoes that come to feast. Indeed, many bluegrass folks consider the harmonica a questionable instrument, although it is certainly better established in bluegrass than instruments such as the clarinet or saxophone.
What makes David's approach different is that, unlike other bluegrass harmonica players who use diatonic harmonicas, David exclusively uses the chromatic harmonica. The chromatic harmonica can produce a sweet, fiddle-like sound and handle fast, intricate melodies. Since David uses a C chromatic to play in all keys, he can deal with tricky chord changes and key transitions without having to quickly switch harmonicas. Since the chromatic provides all the notes without having to bend or over-blow, the timbre of each note isn't dictated by the instrument, but is controlled by the player. David believes that keeping the same tone and timbre throughout a tune is often desirable in bluegrass.
About Gypsy Jazz Harmonica
In the 1930s, Belgian guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt, together with French violinist Stephane Grappelli, formed the Hot Club of France and introduced the world to Gypsy jazz. Gypsy jazz is typically acoustic music featuring the guitar, but often includes the violin, bass, and accordion. It tends to be played in the sharp keys instead of the flat keys favored by horn players. The stringed instruments typically provide percussion instead of drums. The music is often fast and fiery, but and be melodic and sublime.
Some claim that Gypsy jazz is Europe’s greatest contribution to jazz. Although the Gypsy jazz played today is typically classified as a type of jazz, it often has a strong European folk element with rhythms, instrumentation, and guitar techniques that are unique to the genre.
The chromatic harmonica is rarely used in Gypsy jazz, but it does have some history. Django recorded several tunes with chromatic harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler and played with the jazz harmonica pioneer, Max Geldray. Today, straight-ahead jazz players, including jazz harmonica players, sometimes dabble in Gypsy jazz, but most have to work hard if they really want to capture the feel and peculiarities of this genre.
David is one of the few harmonica players who specialize in Gypsy jazz. David feels the harmonica works especially well because it can sound a lot like an accordion and at times can mimic the violin.
On David's CD, Douce Ambiance: Gypsy Jazz Classics, his harmonica playing is accompanied by the intricate guitar lines of Gypsy jazz virtuoso Gonzalo Bergara, and the unmatched 5-string banjo playing of the legendary Pat Cloud. The harmonica and banjo help make this CD unique to the world of Gypsy jazz.
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