While in Los Angeles recently I was recording some backing tracks for my new album I bumped into Jimmy Zavala. Better known as Jimmy Z (and his band Z Tribe) he is best known for his legendary harmonica and sax work with The Eurythmics, Etta James, Bon Jovi, Dr Dre, Rod Stewart, Tom Petty, Yes and more.

A perhaps less known factoid is that Jimmy famously played the harmonica solo on one of  Yes’ best ‘rock guitar’ tracks ‘Love Will Find Way’ from album The Big Generator. A mouth organ on a Yes track? Gasp! Absolutely.

It is doubled with a guitar solo performed by Trevor Rabin but the solo demonstrates superbly how to mix instrument styles and techniques which can appear, at first sight, not to sit well together.

A classic American blues instrument mixed with classic UK progressive rock music? You bet.  That is the very essence of progressive rock in my opinion: ie music that shows signs of progression; do some thing new, shake it up,  lots of influences, defy expectations, challenge preconceptions.

Not only is Jimmy  great harmonica player but he is also an excellent sax player, writer and singer, educator, blogger and deliverer of workshops.

He is also a great singer with a great delivery and a deep rich soulful voice which has (in my ears) echoes of Greg Lake and Dave Lee Roth.  You can hear some of his work at www.ztribe.com

I am hoping to work with Jimmy Z in future which would make for awesome, new and interesting sounds.