Jazzin’ the Blues Vol 5 1930-1953
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This collection is from the jazzier end of the blues spectrum ranging from small group Swing to the early Jazz Revival, spanning between New York and New Orleans. The music is lively, rich and at times poetic. A heady mixture created when Jazz meets the Blues.
From the latter city, but recorded in the former, comes Lizzie Miles, who had extensive recording careers both pre- and post-war; the pre-war material is collected on three Document CDs (DOCD-5458 / 59 / 60), but Too Slow Blues appears here for the first time. It was scheduled for issue on Victor 23298, but the disc never appeared. This surely cannot have been for reasons of musical quality, for Miles and her accompanists are on top form, with Teddy Bunn and Pops Foster being especially impressive. Skeets Tolbert and His Gentlemen of Swing, supply the accompaniment on eight of the next nine titles. The Baby Hines’ titles showcase a singer with an evident admiration for lvie Anderson. Babe Wallace puts across a hepster’s persona on the lively dope number, I’m Blowin’ My Top, which has a fine instrumental break shared among Tolbert’s alto, Lem Johnson’s clarinet, and trumpeter Carl ‘Tatti’ Smith. Equally vivacious, and given a very likable arrangement, is Fine Piece Of Meat, a tribute to ‘a killer-riller-diller from Manila with vanilla.’ On his final offering here, Wallace invites sundry band members to solo, on a piece where meaningful lyrics are even more subordinate to the general determination to have a good time. I’m less bothered than most users of ‘Blues & Gospel Records by the exclusion of Louis Jordan’s pre-war recordings, but of course, there was no way that Yack Taylor’s tough gal reading of Hard Lovin’ BIues could or should have been kept out. Skeets Tolbert turns up again for Taylor’s other three titles; Sugar Boogie lopes along, with ‘Tatti’ Smith’s muted trumpet doodles especially noteworthy. I’ll Make It Worth Your While is another sexually aggressive number. Monette Moore and her musicians, almost inevitably led by Sammy Price, are in excellent form. Blue Lu Barker’s numbers, again with husband Danny and Pops Foster among the accompanists, come from a radio broadcast. Albert Nicholas’s low register clarinet twines around Blue Lu’s characteristically small, nasal voice on After You’ve Gone before Baby Dodds jump starts the band into the ride out. Georgia Grind is perhaps not as sexy as Blue Lu thinks, but the band is in fine, slow dragging form, with Nicholas again acquitting himself well, this time on the upper side of the break. Alberta Price fronts Bunk Johnson’s band and Monette Moore paces out an extraordinary blues poem recitation, accompanied by the George Lewis band. Between these two numbers is the magnificent Ann Cook, formerly a blues singer. Cook was known around town as ‘Bad Ann’, but by 1949 she had renounced the sinful world. Her reading of The Lord Will Make A Way is greatly enhanced by the stately playing of the ‘Wooden” Joe Nicholas band.