Some of the most influential American blues musicians, including harp player Big Walter Horton, were introduced to European audiences through the American Folk Blues Festival, a 10-year series of events that began in 1962. The festival's early years were documented in a five-CD set issued by Evidence in 1995. Many of the selections had been previously issued on vinyl but there were also plenty of unreleased gems in the CD release.
The All Music Guide describes Horton (1918-1981) as "one of the most influential blues harmonica players of all time, and a particular pioneer in the field of amplified harmonica." But Horton, a shy man, was never as popular as other harp greats like Little Walter or Sonny Boy Williamson II, preferring the more anonymous life of a sideman. He played on classic Chess recordings by the likes of Muddy Waters, Johnny Shines and Otis Rush, as well as recording some sides of his own for producer Willie Dixon.
I remember seeing Horton perform with Dixon at a college in Nelson, British Columbia, in the early 1970s, a show that also included pianist Lafayette Leake and other musicians from the Chess studios. Seating was on a concrete floor, no chairs, and the opening act was a horrible white blues-rock band. The main attraction was worth the discomfort, however.
Four of the discs in the American Folk Blues Festival set are live recordings, but the fifth is a studio session. From it comes Blues Harp Shuffle by Horton.
Blues Harp Shuffle
The box set of the festival's first years is still available from various sources. Expect to pay about $60; not bad for a five-disc set. As well some tracks from festival performances are available as downloads from the usual places. And there are DVDs of many of the concerts. A Google search will give you all the information you need.
Here's a great YouTube video of Big Walter Horton playing at an American Folk Blues Festival concert in Copenhagen in 1970.