Little Brother Montgomery (1930-1936)
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Little Brother Montgomery
Paramount, Meteor and Bluebird sides
Complete Recorded Works (1930 1936)
Featuring the recordings of:
Eurreal “Little Brother” Montgomery, vocal / piano. Eurreal (as “E” Montgomery), vocal / piano; Hicks, guitar on 3; prob. Minnie Hicks, speech on 3. Little Brother Montgomery, vocal / piano; Walter Vincson, guitar; Jesse Coleman (Monkey Joe), speech on 5,6. Little Brother, vocal (except 24,25,26) / piano.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Mississippi Blues, New Orleans Blues, Louisiana Blues, Piano Blues, Barrelhouse Piano, Country Blues Guitar, Blues Guitar,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. “Little Brother” quite a name for a giant. He happened to be around much longer than expected (Eddie Boyd: “He always had a rendez-vous with death.”), and some of his later recordings seem superfluous. Yet, most of the notes he pressed were to the point. No more excuses for a man who was probably the greatest all-round piano player of his time in the Deep South. He was born Eurreal Wilford Montgomery in Kentwood, somewhere in the backwoods of Louisiana. His parents (like those of John Henry Davis, better known as Blind John, and Arthur “Montana” Taylor, for example) ran a barrelhouse. Of course, little Eurreal, soon to be called Little Brother Harper after his father, wasn’t allowed into the place, but the pianists working there frequented the Montgomery home as well. He even claimed a visit by Jelly Roll Morton, and there is little reason to doubt his memory. Most of the guys he heard and learned from were less fancy musicians, like the blues player he immortalized with his Varnado Anderson Blues, about the only tune Vanado Andrews (sic) from Kentwood could play. Little Brother Montgomery must have learned his lessons quick. He was accomplished enough to survive working on the Southern barrelhouse circuit when he left home at the age of eleven. Many musicians “lied” about when they did what, but research into other details of his early life (like an almost forgotten Mississippi high water in 1922) failed to prove him wrong. His letters were full of unusual data and wonderful phonetic spellings, again always to the point. How about “buddy P. T.” for Buddy Petit? Petit was the outstanding stylist on cornet around New Orleans in the post-ragtime period till the arrival of swing. By the mid-’20s Brother was sufficiently versatile to work in hot dance (i.e. jazz) bands with the likes of “buddy P. T.“, as he wrote it, for Buddy Petit and clarinetist George Lewis, the towering figure of the New Orleans revival. A few years later he progressed into the note-reading orchestra of Clarence Desdune, and in the ’30s Brother even led a swing band of his own in Mississippi. His unsurpassed mastery is documented by the mammoth Oct. 1936 session, when he cut 23 sides on one day all his 17 solo recordings are assembled here while the five accompaniments are to be found on Document BDCD-6034. Little Brother Montgomery was not a one-strain player like most of the blues specialists. The magnificent Crescent City Blues is a case in point, with its ragtime-like structure. He learned it from one Lumis (or Loomis) Gibson, a pianist about whom nothing else seems to be known. His masterpiece, however, was Vicksburg Blues, his version of the wide-spread theme commonly known as “the 44s”. In those days pianists rarely mixed with “country” blues guitarists if they brought along another player it was usually a drummer. Brother did recall working with Big Joe Williams but not with Skip James, who insisted that they had worked together. When Skip came here with the American Folk Blues Festival in 1967 he took a thrilled young blues (and jazz) enthusiast backstage to meet Son House, Bukka White and other greats they all knew Brother “from way back”. Little Brother Montgomery‘s musical experience between the two World Wars spans an amazing scope of regions, milieus and thus styles, and much of this is reflected in this grand collection of vocal and piano blues.Karl Gert zur Heide Copyright: Document Records 1992.