corky siegel, toots thielmann (sp?) maybe not the best but really enjoy charlie musselwhite. kurt
I place my vote for Walter Horton.
While Toots Thielman may have played some blues at times, I would consider him a jazz artist.
Little Walter haas always been one of my favorites for traditional blues.
Once again, "the best" is an impossible question to ask. I saw Jimmy Z. perform at a small club in Los Angeles in the 80's. There were maybe twenty people in the place, and fifteen had to have been his friends. He blew the doors down. Here's a link to more info:http://www.eharmonica.net/jimmy_z.htm
I don't know about best, but Charlie Musslewhite is pretty good.
My votes would include those already listed above, and I'd add the following fine harp players to the list:
1. Carey Bell
2. Sonny Boy Williamson (I and II)
3. Slim Harpo
4. Kim Wilson (from Antone's in Austin, TX)
5. Paul deLay
6. William Clarke
7. Jerry Portnoy
8. Howlin' Wolf
9. Junior Wells
10. Jimmy Reed
Alot of really good ones have already been mentioned but Mark Wenner of the Nighthawks should be on the list as well. He's got one of those killer gravelly voices to boot.
Although I am a huge Junior Wells fan (Junior was a superb vocalist as well), I'd have to give the nod overall/all around to Little Walter with respect to playing. Sugar Blue is also a superb modern day player; technically there are not many who can hold a candle to him but I think he finds it difficult to fit his ego into most rooms.
honorable mention-corky seigel,paul jones(ex manfred mann),the late great paul butterfield,the late great keith relf.
-Walter Horton (on the album: "Johnny Winter"),
-Whomever played on "Must Have Done Somebody Wrong" Allmans/Filmore East
-Whomever plays for the 'Stones (Jagger?) particularly "Midnight Rambler"
-Whomever plays for Zepplin (Zep-II, "Bring it on Home")
Sorry I'm such an ignorant music lover...
I am surprised nobody mentioned Howard Levy, the brilliant harmonica/keyboardist who used to play for Bela Fleck's Flecktones. He is the only harmonica player I know that can play sharps and flats on a diatonic harmonica. And who can play harmonica AND piano at the SAME time. And a very good composer in his own right. After Flecktones, he also was a part of the group Trio Globo. I also found him as a session player on many other recordings of famous bands. A very talented and unique musician.
I have insufficient experience of other harpists to compare, but recent exposure to some well recorded Junior Wells absolutely knocks my sox off. Sounds like a real original voice on the instrument to me.
Sonnyboy Williamson. Get the Chess boxed set.
BILLY BOY ARNOLD / JAMES COTTON / CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE / SLIM HARPO / PAUL BUTTERFIELD / JERRY PORNOY / SILAS HOGAN / JUNIOR WELLS / LAZY LESTER / LITTLE WALTER.
Rick Estrin-Little Charlie and the Nightcats. Great player and fun music. Remember Fun Music. Check out Crawling Kingsnake on Little Charlie and the Nightcats Captured Live.Get down and get real funky.
All these guys are good, but when I heard Paul Butterfield play, I was blown away. Listen to him on the live song:"Everything's Gonna Be Alright." And you'll know!
I agree: Sugar Blue has chops comin' outta his chops! However, I have to go with Sonny Boy Williamson II, Junior Wells, James Cotton, William Clarke, Sonny Terry, Kim Wilson, Billy Branch. As for an all-time fave, it'd be a toss up between James Cotton and Junior Wells.
the best i ever saw was big walter horton.
Sonny Boy Williamson II, followed by Big Walter Horton, gets my vote.
Listen to some Annie Raines
Paul Rishell/Annie Raines
We are leaving out Slim harpo.