2019 album. Blues.
Chicago harmonica master Billy Branch is releasing ‘Roots And Branches - The Songs Of Little Walter’ and it is a must for any blues fans. The dynamic new album finds Branch and the band boldly reimagining the songs of the renowned Little Walter Jacobs; Jacobs was one of the principal architects of the Chicago blues sound and one of the most influential blues harmonica players who ever lived.
According to Branch, “We were determined not to make this a “typical” Little Walter tribute recording. We are proud to present an album with elements of soul, funk, and even a little bit of gospel. Our goal was to competently and respectfully produce a Little Walter-themed recording with a different twist, while preserving the integrity of Little Walter’s innovative style.”
‘Roots And Branches’, recorded in Chicago and co-produced by Billy Branch, Rosa Branch and longtime Sons Of Blues pianist Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi, features 15 songs written by and or made famous by Little Walter. Each song is played with equal amounts of Branch’s deeply rooted reverence and up-to-the-minute innovation. The music is as timeless in Branch’s and The Sons Of Blues’ interpretations as in Walter’s feral originals. Along with Branch and Ariyoshi, the band features guitarist Giles Corey, bassist Marvin Little and drummer Andrew “Blaze” Thomas. At the end of the album, Little Walter’s daughter, Marion Diaz, shares a few anecdotes of life with her legendary father.
Blues giant Billy Branch is among today’s greatest harmonica players. With his inventive, deeply rooted playing and gritty, soulful vocals, Branch carries on the Chicago blues tradition that he learned first-hand from icons including Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Carey Bell, Willie Dixon and many others. His famous teachers made it clear to anyone who would listen that Branch was the heir apparent to the Chicago blues harmonica throne. With his instantly recognizable sound and his band, The Sons Of Blues, Branch has traveled the world, creating his signature brand of Chicago blues for over four decades.
“As heir apparent to the Chicago blues harmonica throne, Billy Branch is perfectly suited to shine a bright new light on the timeless music of Little Walter Jacobs, a transcendent artist revered by millions and an inspiration to every harmonica player who followed in his wake. Roots And Branches – The Songs Of Little Walter features 15 songs written by or made famous by the harp genius, each one brought to new life by Branch and The Sons of Blues as they blend elements of soul, funk and gospel into the proceedings while remaining true to the integrity of the originals. "A potent blend of rootsy integrity and exploratory zeal" —Living Blues
Billie Branch is a three-time Grammy nominee, multiple Blues Music Award-winner and for over 40 years the leader of one of the world’s premier blues bands, The Sons Of Blues. His deep love for blues traditions and the explosive, clich -free manner in which he makes them his own have earned him a worldwide following. Billy has released eleven records under his own name and played on over 250 more by artists like Willie Dixon, Keb’ Mo’, Johnny Winter, Koko Taylor and Taj Mahal.
In addition to his recordings, Branch is also a tireless educator. His Blues In The Schools program has earned him praise both inside and outside of the music world. Branch shares his knowledge of the music with students in Chicago and other cities around the world, where he teaches blues history as well as providing instrumental instruction to children. In 1996, members of his classes, with Branch at the helm, performed on the main stage at the Chicago Blues Festival, which was broadcast on NPR.