Blind Roosevelt Graves – Complete Recorded Works (1929-1936)
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Blind Roosevelt Graves & Brother (Uaroy Graves)
The Completed Recorded Works Of (1929 1936)
Featuring The Recordings Of:
Blind Roosevelt Graves and Brother: Roosevelt Graves, vocal / guitar (except on 2, 6); Uaroy Graves, tambourine / vocal on 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14; accompanied by Baby Jay (James), cornet; Will Ezell, piano. Talking by band members on 2. Roosevelt Graves And Brother: Sacred singing: with Roosevelt Graves, guitar; Uaroy Graves, tambourine. Mississippi Jook Band: Roosevelt Graves, vocal; Cooney Vaughn, piano; Uaroy Graves, Tamborine. Mississippi Jook Band: Roosevelt Graves, vocal; Cooney Vaughn, piano; Uaroy Graves, Tamborine Roosevelt or Uaroy Graves, scat vocal; kazoo.
Genres, Blues, Country Blues, Mississippi Blues, Country Blues Guitar, 12-string Guitar, Blues Piano, Jazz, Gospel, Mother McCollum,
Abridged from this album’s original booklet notes. Ishman Bracey and informant Chester House asserted that Roosevelt Graves was from South Central Mississippi and played on the streets and in the local juke joints in various towns throughout that area. House, who had performed with Graves in the 1920s, specifically named Rose Hill (a small town about twenty-five miles from Meridian) as the home of the blind guitarist. Graves moved to Gulfport, Mississippi after World War II where he reputedly died in the 1960s. The elder Graves, who was totally blind, usually played a twelve-string guitar and took most of the lead vocals, while his younger brother, who was blind in one eye, harmonized and played tambourine. It was Paramount Records scout H. C. Speir who probably arranged for their trip to Richmond, Indiana, but at that first session it was pianist Will Ezell who called the shots musically. Ezell was working as a session musician and part-time talent scout for Paramount in September 1929, when he recorded with the Graves brothers. He brought with him a cornetist from St. Louis named Baby Jay (or James), who played in the riverboat style of Charlie Creath. Ezell took care of business at the outset, leading the group through seven blues and dance pieces. They did a slower, countrified version of “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie” (Guitar Boogie), tackled the A. Tindley (as Leave It There) in 1916, and exemplified the type of gospel song popularized through the sale of sheet music and exposure at the well-attended gospel conventions. There are versions of this song recorded by Washington Phillips (DOCD-5054), Blind Willie Johnson, and Blind Joe Taggart, all attesting to its widespread popularity. I Shall Not Be Moved can be heard in a simple country version by Charley Patton (DOCD-5010), while When I Lay My Burdens Down which is sometimes called “Glory Glory, Hallelujah” can be compared to the versions by Mother McCollum (DOCD-5 101) and Mclntorsh and Edwards (DOCD- 5072). To this listener, the standout number is Telephone To Glory (first recorded by Rev. Sister Mary Nelson in 1927 as “The Royal Telephone”, see DOCD-5072), which Paul Oliver in Songsters & Saints points to as “representative of the new trend to find images that related to contemporary society and linked the familiar with the holy.” The cornet, piano, and guitar provide a lilting rhythm for the brothers’ remarkable vocals, resulting in a mesmerizing performance. For collectors, the real bonus on this disc will be the inclusion of the recently discovered Paramount 12913 (Happy Sunshine / I’m Pressing On). Not having had the opportunity to hear this at the time these notes were written, I can only hazard a guess that the latter title is the same as that by Rev. D. C. Rice (DOCD-507I). In 1936, it was again H. C. Speir, who found the Graves brothers performing in a church in McComb, Mississippi, and sent them over to Hattiesburg to be recorded by the ARC field unit there. They did eight sacred numbers as a duet, of which only two were released: Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind On Jesus) and I’ll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called), both rhythmically complex in the interplay between the two instruments and the vocals. In fact, the 1929 and the 1936 sessions can be contrasted to illustrate the differences in the type of beat popular at the time. The secular and the sacred songs from the 1929 session have a beat that is closer to the stately syncopation of ragtime, while the 1936 session showcases the emergence of the newer boogie-woogie rhythm on the Mississippi Jook Band sides. The pianist at the 1936 session was Cooney Vaughn, who had a weekly performance slot on radio station WCOC in Meridian prior to World War Il and is remembered as more of a pop performer than a bluesman. Little Brother Montgomery crossed his path in 1935 and remarked that Vaughn was one of the best piano players he had ever heard. Vaughn is reported to have served time in the Alabama State Penitentiary for shooting and killing a man and may have been killed by a train that hit him after he fell asleep on a railroad track in Hattiesburg.Ken Romanowski Copyright 1992 Document Records