So this evening I was reviewing the JazzWeek Chart for this week, and I saw a name that looked interesting at No 20, Enrico Granafei His current release Alone (and) Together rose from No 46 last week to that No 2o spot. So I found the album at Spotify, and put it on while I was doing some other stuff on the computer. As I was listening, I was struck by how much the music sounded like the French Gypsy music of Django Reinhardt.What I couldn’t decide was whether or not the instrument Enrico was playing was a harmonica or not. It sure didn’t sound like the ones I know and the album cover which was small really didn’t help Here is the cover of the album…so I thought it was a harmonica, but the shape looked kinda funky!!
After listening to most of the album, I went to Enrico’s website, where I read that he is one of the most respected players of the Chromatic Harmonica in the world today. So off I went to learn more about the Chromatic Harmonica….. at Wikipedia I read:
The chromatic harmonica is a type of harmonica that uses a button-activated sliding bar to redirect air from the hole in the mouthpiece to the selected reed-plate desired. When the button is not pressed, an altered diatonic major scale of the key of the harmonica is available, while depressing the button accesses the same scale a semi-tone higher in each hole. Thus, the instrument is capable of playing the 12 notes of the Western chromatic scale. The chromatic harmonica can thus be contrasted with a standard harmonica, which can play only the notes in a given musical key.
Famously accomplished chromatic harmonica players include classical players Larry Adler, Tommy Reilly, Sigmund Groven, and Willi Burger, jazz players Toots Thielemans,Gregoire Maret, Max Geldray, and Hendrik Meurkens, and popular musicians Norton Buffalo and Stevie Wonder. Read More
Now back to Enrico. Enrico is not only a harmonica virtuoso, he is also a classical guitarist, singer, songwriter, arranger, and composer. He started his career in Rome, then went to Germany, back to Italy and then to New York. From his website:
In 1992 Enrico graduated with a Masters.degree in Jazz Performance from the Manhattan School of Music where he was the only student of Toots Thielemans. Enrico has been the owner and musical director of the prestigious Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, New Jersey (USA), the most important Jazz venue in the state, since 1999.
Again a musician in my own backyard, well in this case an hour plus from my own backyard! Now here’s where it gets interesting, again from his website:
…. Enrico’s latest accomplishment is his work on Hands-Free-Chromatic Harmonica. The revolutionary instrument invented by Vern Smith allows him to play Chromatic Harmonica and Guitar at the same time, something that nobody has ever done before in Jazz. The use of the DB guitar invented by Nico Di Battista add yet another dimension to Enrico’s playing , the instrument is a combination of bass and guitar. Close your eyes and you will hear two or three musicians but in fact it’s only one.
Pretty cool, huh! and I’m lucky I can walk and chew gum at the same time! So here’s Enrico playing the DB Guitar and the chromatic harmonica, performing a Stevie Wonder medley!! Oh and I enjoyed the album and it may become one of those work soundtrack albums!!