If you enjoy playing at the late night jams at summer festivals, you know the sinking feeling that comes over you when someone approaches the circle with a great big bag of harmonicas. If not a guaranteed jam buster, it generally means someone who is going to play constantly over top of the other instruments, and singers, blowing the same blues licks on every harp he pulls out of his sack.
David Naiditch has recognized this prejudice against his chosen axe in the bluegrass world, but he’s been able to overcome it easily when people actually hear him play. He employs a chromatic harmonica – the big one with the little push button on the side – which allows him to play all of the notes of a scale. In his hands, and with his skill in interpreting fiddle music, Naiditch will make a believer out of the harshest skeptic.
Starting out with the typical diatonic harmonica as a young man in the 1960s, David became proficient enough in the blues style to teach at music stores in Los Angeles where he grew up. It was only thirty years later that he took up the chromatic harp, and it opened up whole new vistas for him as an artist. Exploring new sounds led him into gypsy jazz, swing, and yes… bluegrass.
David’s latest album, his seventh, is called David Naiditch Plays Bluegrass and Swing Instrumentals, and features him with a group of Nashville hot shots on a set of familiar tunes. For the grassy numbers, Jake Workman is on guitar, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, and Dennis Crouch on bass. David Grier and Aaron Till make appearances as well, and German guitarist Joscho Stephan handles the swingy stuff.
Here’s a sample with the album’s opening track, a fiddle tune medley made up of Texas Gals, Billy In The Lowground, and Denver Belle.