Monette Moore Vol 2 1923 – 1932 – Full Album
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DOCD-5339 Monette Moore Vol 2; Nov. 1924 to 28th Sept 1932triplate27
Female â€œClassicâ€ Blues / Jazz.
Includes; Fats Waller, Bubber Miley, Rex Stewart, Louis Hooper and othersâ€¦
Extensive, detailed booklet notes by John Henry Vanco.
At first glance, Monette Mooreâ€™s handful of pre-war recordings, collected on the two volumes of her recorded works, seem to be standard issue â€œclassicâ€ blues singing in front of jazz hands; yet under further scrutiny they reveal great stylistic variety. Though she taught herself piano as a young teenager and briefly earned a living accompanying silent films (see note to DOCD-5338 for an account of her life and career), Moore never accompanied herself on piano on record during the pre-war period. She plays kazoo on â€œGraveyard Bound Bluesâ€, (DOCD-5338) but never piano.
Mooreâ€™s singing is front and centre on all of these cuts. Her voice is consistently delicate and always very controlled. Her diction is perfect, her timing precise. Especially in her early records (â€œSugar Bluesâ€ DOCD-5338), her voice flutters and rises to vibrato on her long and unaccompanied notes. Sometimes she sounds almost too urbane for the blues idiom – as if her voice betrayed the signs of classical training. Though her elegant singing style later went out of vogue in favour of the gritty, impassioned, gutbucket sound of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, Mooreâ€™s style was part of a popular and distinct school of 1920s blues singing that included Lucille Hegamin and Edith Wilson.
Moore was fortunate to have Bob Fuller in the studio when the Ajax label put together the Choo Choo Jazzers to accompany her. Fullerâ€™s playing on harmonica, alto sax, and most often, clarinet was uniformly creative and accomplished, especially on â€œSalt Water Bluesâ€, â€œMeat Man Peteâ€ and â€œBlack Sheep Bluesâ€. The Texas Trio, credited as accompanying Moore on â€œMemphis Bluesâ€ and â€œTexas Special Bluesâ€ was made up, strangely enough, of banjo, ukulele and Bob Fullerâ€™s harmonica. Compared with the very urbane, jazzy nature of most of Mooreâ€™s other material, these two titles feel very country, sounding like a citified Southern string band.
As one reads over her titles, then listens to the lyrics, a definite preponderance of death imagery in Mooreâ€™s songs becomes evident. Some of the lyrics are facetious, while some are straight. The former are more fun, as in â€œBlack Hearse Bluesâ€ where Moore pleads, â€œOld death wagon donâ€™t you dare stop at my door – you took my first three daddies- you canâ€™t have number four…Smallpox got my first man, blues killed number two, I wore out the last one…â€
Moore spent much of her life on the stage of Broadway, Harlem and black vaudeville across America. We get a flavour of what her stage persona may have been like with the charming pair of vocal duets with Billy Higgins from January 1925. While most of her previous lyrics ran along the standard line of my-man-is-gone-and-he-was-bad-but-I-miss-him-so. In â€œHow Can l Miss You?â€ and â€œYou Ainâ€™t Nothinâ€™ To Meâ€ Moore is much more assertive and independent. The battle-of-the-sexes exchange between them is often hilarious.
Another successful, comic effort by Moore was â€œSore Bunion Bluesâ€ her bizarre ode to aching feet (?!). She starts off with a spoken, a cappella â€œLord, Lord whatâ€™s the matter with these dogs of mine!â€ then sings, â€œRight foot left foot thatâ€™s poor me and my heavy load. Red hot bunions bother me as I travel down the road. Thereâ€™s no parking, dogs keep barking… My hot puppies, got to cool them off, ventilation keeps them nice and soft.â€
The unissued â€œShine On Your Shoes/Louisiana Hayrideâ€ from late 1932 was made during the peak of Mooreâ€™s stage and club career in New York, and this cut is the peak of her recordings, as well. Fats Waller contributes an inspired, rollicking accompaniment, along with a few wonderful solos, but Moore more than holds her own. Her voice is totally under control, but she uses it much more imaginatively than she had allowed herself previously. She maintains her precise diction, but now she swings and vamps shamelessly. She even adds a Louis Armstrong-esque gravelly, bass effect to her singing that works to great effect. This joyful finale pays glorious tribute to the talent of Monette Moore amid makes one wish that more of her performances – especially her later, more mature work – could have been captured on record.