Yes, Toots' diatonic playing isn't much, but it's not true that he hates it. He played it quite a bit in the 70's and actually got halfway good at it for awhile (Soundtrack to Cinderella Liberty, and a few European live things).
I've heard him struggling to get around on it. A person like him, who has developed lightning fast reflexes on the chromatic and is used to its consistent tuning from octave to octave and its easy access to a complete chromatic scale, is naturally going to be a bit flustered when presented with something that has none of the above. Generally he just jokes around on it, but means no disrespect. We talked about it a little in the interview that will come out in HIP No. 6.
That someone as brilliant on chromatic as he is could flounder so much on the diatonic only serves to illustrate that they really are different instruments in the same family, like, maybe, violin and mandolin.
FJM-not-Barry mentions a CD with Toots playing C-jam blues on a diatonic. This I've never heard - I have him playing it on chromatic on a few records. As a Toots discographer I'd like to know some details.
Charlie Sawyer passed thru San Francisco yesterday and we had brunch together with lots of interesting conversation. He gave me a copy of his book on B. B. King, and played some amazing live tapes of Kim Wilson. I really enjoy it when I can connect in person with the people behind the glowing phosphor patterns.
Off to the SPAH convention. See you folks in a week.