Monette Moore Vol 2 (1923 – 1932) Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order – Full Album
– Extensive, detailed booklet notes by John Henry Vanco plus detailed discography. Jewel Case format.
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Moore’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 (Sugar Blues 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, Moore’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. Fuller’s playing on harmonica, alto sax, and most often, clarinet was uniformly creative and accomplished, especially on Salt Water Blues, Meat Man Pete and Black Sheep Blues. The Texas Trio, credited as accompanying Moore on Memphis Blues and Texas Special Blues was made up, strangely enough, of banjo, ukulele and Bob Fuller’s harmonica. Compared with the very urbane, jazzy nature of most of Moore’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 Moore s songs becomes evident. Some of the lyrics are facetious, while some are straight. The former are more fun, as in Black Hearse Blues where Moore pleads, “Old death wagon don’t you dare stop at my door – you took my first three daddies- you can’t have number four…Smallpox got my first man, blues killed number two, I wore out the last one…”
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 How Can l Miss You? and You Ain’t Nothin’ To Me , 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 Sore Bunion Blues her bizarre ode to aching feet (?!). She starts off with a spoken, a cappella “Lord , Lord what’s the matter with these dogs of mine! “then sings, “Right foot left foot that’s poor me and my heavy load. Red hot bunions bother me as I travel down the road. There’s no parking, dogs keep barking… My hot puppies, got to cool them off, ventilation keeps them nice and soft.”
The unissued Shine On Your Shoes/Louisiana Hayride from late 1932 was made during the peak of Moore’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 Armstronge-sque 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.
Also available in the Series.
DOCD-5538 Monette Moore Vol 1 1923 – 1924 featuring Clarence Jones, Tommy Ladnier, Jimmy O’Bryant. Rex Stewart, Bubba Miley and many other.
JPCD-1515-2 Jazzin’ The Blues Vol 1 1936 – 1946.
JPCD-1528-2 Female Blues. The Remaining Titles Vol 2 1938 – 1949 featuring Monette Moore, Bea Foote, Ruby Smith, Lil Green, Perline Ellison, Wee Bea Booze, Lillie Mae Kirkman