IL) – Chicago blues harmonica master Billy Branch didn’t really want to record
a tribute to a legend of his instrument, Little Walter.
with last year’s 50th anniversary of Little Walter’s death and next year’s 90th
anniversary of his birth, Branch’s wife, Rosa Enrico, persuaded him that
attention must be paid.
started telling Billy, ‘This is something you need to do,’” recalls Enrico. “He
was so hesitant because Walter is so revered. You can’t do Walter.”
it’s impossible — and unworthy — merely to mimic the blues harp innovator. And
yet it’s impossible to escape his influence.
be honest, at first I kind of pushed against it,” says Branch, who will
celebrate the release of his new album, Roots and Branches: The Songs of
Little Walter, Saturday night [Oct 19] at The Promontory [Chicago].
are so many Little Walter tribute albums — why do we need that? Then I said,
‘OK, I’ll try it.’”
result is an eloquent recording spotlighting works written or recorded by
Little Walter – but re-examined through Branch’s genre-expanding sensibility.
This is a deeply personal album, each track a crisply envisioned response to
Little Walter’s art from Branch and his band, The Sons of Blues.