Rare Live Cuts
Cafe Society (1939 Airchecks) & Milwaukee (1943)
Billie Holiday with Frankie Newton Orchestra
Meade “Lux” Lewis
Red Feather Trio
Genres: Boogie-woogie, swing, jazz, blues.
Informative booklet notes by Axel Zwingenberger
In recent years, the ever growing community of jazz and blues lovers has been fortunate to profit from a real work of love – tracing the rarest material from the pioneers of the genre, putting it into a context with their better known recordings and thus allowing the enthusiast (or musician) to get a more complete picture of their oevre than could ever have been hoped for. Some treasures from the past times of 78 rpm shellack recordings have been known to just a few insiders, but their musical and historical value deserves to be discovered by today’s audience.
This CD contains such a treasury – live recordings from the mecca of boogie woogie, New York’s famous Café Society, when the Boogie Woogie Trio had just hit the road to fame, along with Billie Holiday, Frankie Newton and the other luminaries from the club’s roster. Moreover, we have the opportunity to witness a celebrated performance of Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson at Milwaukee’s jazz club “Frenchy’s” during their travelling period as piano twins after their Café Society years.
I have known the music of these recordings for many years through battered tape copies provided by friends from the collectors’ circuit, but it was a moving moment to see and hold the original aluminium discs and glass acetates that preserved these precious performances. More than half a century has passed by since they were recorded, and time has left its mark on the discs, but every effort has been made to provide the recordings to the listener in the best possible way without losing the more hidden details of the music. None of them were commercial recordings – the 1939 Café Society tunes were radio performances “recorded off the air by Mr. Dick Reber” whilst the 1943 Milwaukee gig was privately recorded at the club by John Steiner. They may lack the technical quality of “regular” studio recordings, but they keep the excitement and sheer joy of a more informal live session to a higher degree than most conventional records. The artists are in an inspired mood and quite a bit of extra improvisation is added to some well-worn “standards” known from their commercial recordings.
All these recordings help to get a more detailed picture of the times when swing and boogie music were flourishing and legends emerged, musically as well as personally, -legends that are still fascinating and will continue to be fascinating for generations of music lovers to come.