Jazz Gillum Vol 2 1938 – 1941
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Complete Recorded Works (3rd April 1936 to 25th January 1949)
Vol. 2: 16th December 1938 to 4th July 1941
Featuring the recordings of:
Jazz Gillum, vocal / harmonica; probably Big Bill Broonzy, guitar / vocal responses on 2; probably Joshua Altheimer, piano; probably Ransom Knowling, stand-up bass. Jazz Gillum, vocal / harmonica (except on 11); possibly. John Cameron, tenor sax; probably Joshua Altheimer, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar. Jazz Gillum, vocal / harmonica; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; probably Alfred Elkins or Al Collins, imitation bass. Jazz Gillum, vocal / harmonica; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; probably Alfred Elkins, imitation bass; Washboard Sam, washboard. Jazz Gillum (as Bill McKinley), vocal / harmonica; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; unknown, stand-up bass; Washboard Sam, washboard. Jazz Gillum, vocal / harmonica; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; probably Alfred Elkins or Al Collins, imitation bass; Amanda Sorter, washboard.
Genres: Blues, Urban Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Mississippi Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues Harmonica, Blues Piano,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. When Jazz Gillum made his first recordings the influence of his country background was still strong upon him. His dark but clear voice and piping high-register harp were redolent of the country juke joint or small town street corner. Gillum’s uncomplicated straight ahead style continued to sell records and attempts to render his image more hip by the use of an electric guitar seemed to have been modestly successful. For his recording date in May 1939 Gillum played his harmonica alongside a tenor-sax player who is tentatively identified as one John Cameron. This trend towards big city sophistication was general among the group of Chicago musicians of which Gillum was a member and would see its final fruition, after a fresh injection from the south, as the bar blues which dominated the post-war Chicago scene. In May of 1940 Gillum cut one of his most successful and at the same time controversial numbers; Key To The Highway was to become a blues standard and both Jazz Gillum and Big Bill Broonzy claimed authorship. Investigations over the years would seem to indicate that Gillum had the stronger case. Gillum himself was not above swiping a good tune, say that generally known as Dust My Broom (common property and used on the uptempo Against My Will), or a whole song (like everybody else he was to take a swing at Casey Bill Weldon‘s Outskirts of Town) or even a stylistic tag such as Peetie Wheatstraw‘s “Oh well, well”. His own compositions often tended to hark back to his days in the south. On Mule Blues from his December 1938 session Gillum had boasted that he could “look at forty acres of cotton and tell you every bale you’ll make” and this preoccupation with southern concerns continued with his hymn in praise of the Mississippi steam boat Big Katy Adams and his invocation of the folk-hero Stavin Chain. Strangely when he recorded I’m Still Walking The Hi-Way, to cash in on the success Key To The Highway, with which it shared the same tune, in March 1941 – a month before Big Bill Broonzy recorded the latter number – the writer credit was made out to … “Broonzy”! It was at Broonzy’s May 1941 session for Okeh, when his version of Key To The Highway was cut, that “Bill McKinley“, reappeared as Jazz Gillum took the opportunity to lay down a couple of, extracurricular, tracks himself, including the mildly salacious Is That A Monkey You Got?, which, possibly for contractual reasons, did not see release until the compact disc age of the 1990s.Keith Briggs Copyright 1993: Document Records