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Did Walter Horton ever play chromatic harmonica?

( Document Records, used with permission)

There is one commercially issued recording on which Walter Horton (AKA "Big Walter", "Shakey Walter", or "Mumbles") played a chromatic harmonica. This was a piece in the key of C, played on a 16-hole C chromatic called simply "Blues". This was recorded at a private party in Germany in 1965 and it was issued on an LP called "Solo Harp" on the Document label (DLP 575), but is long out of print. Here is a brief audio clip from that tune (again used with the permission of Document Records):

According to Charlie Musselwhite, Horton was a very capable player on chromatic, but for some reason always preferred to play diatonic on recording sessions. Some LP reissues of the Muddy Waters Band featuring chromatic playing have personnel listings which incorrectly list Horton as the harmonica player, when it was actually Little Walter Jacobs.

Although there was only this one officially released example of his chromatic playing, Horton did record a few tracks with a solo tuned diatonic harmonica. For more information on solo tuned diatonics, please refer to this page. Walter played solo tuned harps on the tunes "Skip It", from his "Can't Keep Lovin' You" album (Blind Pig 1484) and on "Have Mercy", on his album with Carey Bell (Alligator 4702) (on this one, Walter plays soloist and Bell plays chromatic), "Hotel Alvin Blues Jam" from the album "Spivey's Blues Cavalcade" (Spivey LP1015) and "Shakey's Edmonton Blues" on "They Call Me Big Walter" (Blues Alliance TBA-13005).


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