Kim Field, Boston, 1994, photo by Cherie Hoyt. Copyright, © Cherie Hoyt, 1997
Kim Wilson, Worcester, 1995, photo by Charles Sawyer.
Copyright, © Charles Sawyer, 1997
Kim Wilson, on the right here, is simply the best blues harmonica player living. There may have been better players but they are gone. He epitomizes the instrument as played in that style. He has the tone of Big Walter Horton and the melodic idioms of Little Walter Jacobs. Besides commanding the full range of expression established by the giants Kim Wilson has added his own elements, a rare capacity to make the music swing and an imagination for inventing melodies that make him the most original improviser of the blues harmonica. For a time both Kims lived in Austin, Texas. Inevitably they became friends and remain fast friends. "I have listened to Kim Wilson play all night without ever seeming to repeat a single riff," says Kim Field.
The notion of Kim (the author) Field and Kim (the player) Wilson is
unavoidable, but unfortunate because it neglects the first Kim's prowess
as a player. He compares with
the very best and his playing is informed by the sensibilities of the
great stylists from Little Walter to Charlie McCoy. Pity that his book
didn't come with a CD you could play on your computer to hear and see
him play, a capella preferably. Then his readers could experience
his conception of the instrument, for it's a sight to see
and a boon to the ear. He is
an intensely physical player and watching him play you see how a myriad
of muscles from the embouchure to the diaphragm cooperate to make the body
itself at least the half of the instrument that produces the sound. Boy,
does he takes a big bite out of that harp.
Little Walter + Toot's Thieleman = Paul De Lay
George "Harmonica" Smith", Ann Arbor Blues Festival, 1970.
Photo by Charles Sawyer. Copyright, ©, 1997.