Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
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James Cotton

1935 -

Origin: United States

Main instrument: Harmonica

Genre: Blues

A giant of the blues, James Cotton won his stripes armed with the smallest of wind instruments: the harmonica. Over 70 years into his remarkable career, the man nicknamed “Superharp” built his reputation on a fiery stage presence, energetic musicianship and a powerhouse voice. With both feet in the blues from a very early age, the Mississippi native was a self-taught musician and hadn’t even turned 10 when he was taken under the wing of the man who would be first mentor: Sonny Boy Williamson. After cutting his teeth with that legend, Cotton spent his teen years on the stages of Memphis, sharing bills with Howlin’ Wolf, cutting his first songs for Sun Records and hosting a radio program. Meeting Muddy Waters in 1954 marked another major turning point in his career, with the legend inviting him to take Junior Wells’ place in his band. He would spend 12 years there, revealing the full measure of his talent and passion as the years rolled by. Finally ready to step out as a bandleader, he took the plunge in 1966 and launched a career marked by national and international tours, with his famed James Cotton Blues Band, concerts with Santana, Freddie King and B.B. King, some thirty albums and a number of Grammy nominations. In 1996, his album Deep in the Blues was named Best Traditional Blues Album during the Grammy Awards, just one release in a rich discography that includes 100% Cotton (1974), High Compression (1984), Harp Attack! (1990), Mighty Long Time (1991), Fire Down Under the Hill (2000), Baby, Don't You Tear My Clothes (2004), Giant (2010) and Cotton Mouth Man (2013). Before the first edition of the Festival, in May of 1980, he participated in the Living Legends of the Blues concertin the Cepsum along with B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. During his 4th Festival performance in 2015, he received th B.B. King Award.


  • James Cotton received the B.B. King Award 2015 (2015-06-27) Salle Wilf

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