Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast

David Naiditch interview

July 24, 2021 Neil Warren Season 1 Episode 43
Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast
David Naiditch interview
Show Notes Chapter Markers

David Naiditch joins me on episode 43. 

After starting out as a diatonic player, including having lessons with a touring Sonny Terry, David developed himself into possibly the sole exponent of playing Bluegrass music on the chromatic harmonica, and has recorded various albums with some of the stellar names from the Bluegrass world. 

David likes the clean, consistent tone that the chromatic brings.
He also plays Gypsy Jazz, a genre which he sees as having some similarities with Bluegrass. 
During the pandemic David recorded an album entirely remotely from the other musicians, and his delight with the results show the increasing potential of this, although it’s always nice to play along with others. 

David honed his craft live, and you might catch him jamming along at a festival in the US sometime soon. 


Steve Kaufman’s Bluegrass workout:


David's YouTube Channel:

David demos blues in 12 keys on chromatic:

Jimmy Riddle playing chromatic on US TV show ‘Hee Haw’:

Jackie Naiditch YouTube channel for house jams:

Podcast website:



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David is based in Los Angeles
Started playing the oboe first, then guitar and harmonica
The Ashgrove centre in LA was where David was inspired by many great folk acts
Took lessons from Sonny Terry when he was 14, and David formed a country blues duo as his first act
What was Sonny Terry like as a harmonica teacher?
Learned a lot of his craft at jam sessions, playing acoustically
Switched from diatonic to chromatic harmonica because he preferred the consistency of tone on chromatic on style of music he played
Woke up one day after not playing harmonica for a spell and decided to try chromatic
Alternative tunings weren’t so common on diatonic at that stage
Picked up chromatic 30 years after starting on diatonic
David studied mathematics and philosophy and worked at Aerospace
Has written two books on the Ada programming language
Did skills in maths and computing help with music?
David didn’t use computing resources too much to aid his music learning
The folk music scene at the Ashgrove in LA which sparked his interest in this genre of music
Bluegrass music, which does not usually include harmonica as an instrument
Bluegrass music is typically played fast: and how David approached this playing on the chromatic
Learns Bluegrass melodies, with some embellishment, and a little improvisation
Other Bluegrass harmonica players, but they use diatonic harmonica
David has great fluency at speed on the chromatic, and playing in the sharp keys
Bluegrass does have elements of Blues as part of the genre
Has also recorded lots of Gypsy Jazz songs on chromatic harmonica, and similarities to Bluegrass
Chromatic harmonica can take place of accordion in Gypsy Jazz
Larry Adler recorded with famous Gyspy Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, and Max Geldray and maybe Toots Thielemans also played with Django
David’s first album was released in 2005: Harmonica and Guitar Duets, partly made to practise using Pro Tools recording software
High Dessert Bluegrass album in 2008
Has recruited some of the top Bluegrass players to perform on his albums
Used a small condenser microphone used to record chromatic harmonica
Third album: Bluegrass Harmonica, To Boldly Go Where No Harmonica Has Gone Before
Douce Ambiance album in 2012 is a Gypsy Jazz album, which has previous guitar player from Jason Ricci’s band
Lady Be Good song won runner-up award for best instrumental by the International Acoustic Music Awards (IAMA)
2014 album Bluegrass In The Backwoods, and how David got some of top Bluegrass names performing on his albums
Has second harmonica player on the album, Jon Kip
Bluegrass That Swings album in 2017
Playing with top players raises David’s game on his own playing
Latest album: David Naiditch Plays Bluegrass and Swing Instrumentals from 2020
No more albums planned quite yet, but likes possibility of more remote recordings
David uses AirPlay direct to get his songs played on Bluegrass radio stations
Recently appeared in HarmonicaUK magazine, interviewed by Tony Eyers from Australia
10 minute question
Chromatics of choice
Doesn’t play any diatonic these days
Plays almost entirely acoustically, if on stage uses vocal mic