Carlos del Junco
Reviews and Info
Steady Movin' shows yet again why many people think Carlos del Junco is the greatest harmonica player alive - the Toronto Star claims that del Junco elevates the harp to the equivalent of a Stradivarius violin! The album bursts with creative energy - this jazz-blues album will make everybody want to dance. Amazon.com
Mashed Potatoes CANADA
Movin' Down The River Rhine
The Simple Life
Bye For Now
2005 "Best Blues" Award- NOW Magazine, Toronto, ON
1997 - 2007 Harmonica Player of the Year - SEVEN times out of the Canadian Maple Blues Award's ELEVEN year history
1998 JUNO NOMINATION for BIG BOY CD
1996 Blues Musician of the Year Award
Jazz Report Magazine
1993 Hohner World Harmonica Championship – Trossingen, Germany Two Gold Medals in both diatonic blues and diatonic jazz
Born in Havana, Cuba, del Junco (loosely translated "of the reeds") immigrated with his family at the age of one. He bent his first note on a harmonica when he was fourteen, making his debut with his high school math teacher at a student talent night. In his early 20's del Junco was immersed in a visual arts career; he graduated with honours from a four year programme, majoring in sculpture ( click here to see photos ) at the Ontario College of Art. Sculpture has definitely had an influence on his outlook on music: "Music is just a different way of creating textures and shapes."
Playing a ten hole diatonic harmonica, Carlos has developed the unique ability to play chromatically by using a recently developed "overblow" technique taught to him by jazz virtuoso Howard Levy. Overall, this approach to the diatonic harmonica, although much more difficult to achieve, is in many ways more expressive and communicative than the mechanized tone produced by the chromatic harmonica . Carlos is one of the few pioneers of this overblow method, bringing musical credibility to what has still been considered by many in the music industry - a fringe folk instrument. The sophisticated sound produced by del Junco is at once sensitive, soulful, and sexy while never forgetting the rawness inherent in blues music.
During the 80's del Junco performed with many bands including Latin/reggae/r&b band "Eyelevel", "Ontario College of Art Swing Band" with Bill Grove and he had a 6 year stint with rhythm and blues group "The Buzz Upshaw Band". With Kevin Cooke in 1990 he formed a blues/jazz/fusion band, "The Delcomos". He has recorded with Marcel Aymar (Cano), Cassandra Vassick, Oliver Schroer, Zappacosta, and has also worked with Dutch Mason, Domenic Troiano, Hoc Walsh (Downchild Blues Band) and Holly Cole.
In 1991 del Junco performed and composed the music for Tomson Highway's Dora award winning play Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing. The production toured Canada and was held over for seven weeks at Toronto's Royal Alex Theatre.
In 1993 Carlos del Junco won two gold medals at the Hohner World Harmonica Championship held in Trossingen, Germany. He was judged world's best in both the diatonic blues category and the diatonic jazz category.
With the late Bill Kinnear, Carlos del Junco released his first CD, Blues on independent label, Big Reed Records in November 1993. The rich collection of blues classics was a collaborative effort with Kinnear playing acoustic and dobro guitars and handling lead vocals. Five out of six reviewers in the Toronto Blues Society, selected Blues for their top ten releases of 1993.
In March/April 1995 del Junco traveled to Chicago with a Canada Council grant to study with Howard Levy. This year saw the release of of the critically acclaimed Just Your Fool a sizzling live session with Kevin Breit on guitar, Al Duffy on bass, and Geoff Arsenault on drums. It was this CD and the collaborative effort with Thom "Champagne Charlie" Roberts Big Road Blues, that won Carlos the 1996 Blues Musician Of The Year Award...
...del Junco continues to produce an eclectic palette of music on Blues Mongrel, his (2005) 6th recording and his debut for NorthernBlues. The set features his daring harmonica style, which flirts with Latin rhythms (“Let’s Mambo”), rockabilly (“Run Me Down”) and even a quirky jazz-ska hybrid (“Skatoon”). And, as a singer, Carlos’ voice is almost as unique as his harp playing. Remarkable guitar work by Kevin Breit, one of the most sought-after session players in Canada and now in the U.S. thanks in large part to his work with Norah Jones and Cassandra Wilson, adds texture to the 13-track collection.
Carlos has toured Canada regularly since 1996 and tours often in Germany and the United States. He has played all the major jazz, blues, and folk festivals across Canada.
Highlights of del Junco's career include:
-Composed and toured Tomson Highway's Dora Award winning play Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing
-Won two gold medals (in the diatonic blues category and the diatonic jazz category) at the Hohner World Harmonica Championships in Germany
-Blues, Carlos' first CD, delta blues with the late guitar player and singer Bill Kinnear
-CBC taped a 2-part special on Performance with a live segment and interview with Carlos and Bill
-Just Your Fool CD, an electric band live setting that won del Junco Jazz Report's 1996 Blues Musician of the Year Award
-Big Road Blues CD, acoustic blues from the delta with guitar player and singer Thom Roberts ~ Receiving a Canada Council grant, del Junco studied privately in Chicago for two months with Howard Levy
-Live taping on Bravo T.V. Blues at Cafe Campus, 70-minute special featuring the electric band and interview with Carlos
-Received Toronto Blues Society's Maple Leaf Blues Award for 1997 Harmonica Player of the Year
-Release of Big Boy
-Big Boy nominated for a Juno Award in "Best Blues Album" category
-Received Toronto Blues Society's Maple Leaf Blues Award for 1998 Harmonica Player of the Year
-Nominated for Toronto Blues Society’s Maple Leaf Blues Award for 1999 Harmonica Player of the Year
-Perform concert and workshop at Harmonica Summit 2000 in Minneapolis, Minnesota (other performers were Toots Thielemans and Howard Levy)
-Received Toronto Blues Society’s Maple Leaf Blues Award for 2000 Harmonica Player of the Year
-Spring release of new full band CD -Up And At 'Em featuring Kevin Breit with guest appearance by Jane Siberry
-Nominated Toronto Blues Society’s Maple Leaf Blues Award for 2001 Harmonica Player of the Year
-Played as an invited guest for a week of dates with Mark Hummel's annual Harmonica Blowoff in California, US
-Perform opening set for Ray Charles at The Humming Bird Centre for Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival to a standing ovation
-Teach harmonica master class and perform in West Virginia and Germany
-Winner Toronto Blues Society’s Maple Leaf Blues Award for 2003 Harmonica Player of the Year
-Release of new band CD Blues Mongrel featuring Kevin Breit
-Winner Toronto Blues Society’s Maple Leaf Blues Award for 2004 Harmonica Player of the Year (5 out of 8 years of awards)
-Voted "Best Blues" in NOW magazine, Toronto, ON
Winner Toronto Blues Society’s Maple Leaf Blues Award for 2005 Harmonica Player of the Year
-Winner Toronto Blues Society’s Maple Leaf Blues Award for 2006 Harmonica Player of the Year
-Release of new band CD "Steady Movin'" featuring Kevin Breit
Carlos del Junco - Live Tour Artists interview