Vocal Blues & Jazz – Alternative Takes & Remaining Titles Vol. 2 (1921-1938)
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Volume two of this three volume series features ten female singers who to a greater or lesser degree found the blues in their lives, from the highly successful Ethel Waters, Lizzie Miles and Sara Martin to the more obscure Laura Bryant, Tiny Mayberry and others, including Rosa Henderson of whom the famous blues / jazz record producer John Hammond once said was “an underrated artist”, the sides appearing here add weight to that comment. As with the vast majority of the CDs featuring female classic blues singers in the Document Catalogue, this collection is given double strength by the inclusion of some excellent accompanists including Fletcher Henderson, Lovie Austin, Jimmy Blythe, Clarence Williams, Porter Grainger, Teddy Bunn and Lil Armstrong.
The early foundations of blues recording were built on what became known as the Classic Blues. The performers were usually professional female singers who toured the vaudeville theatre circuit. Their repertoire took in the popular songs of the early 1900s and continued through the 1920s. This included popular love songs, songs from musical shows and, the blues. Their accompaniments would be provided by a pianist or on rare occasions a guitarist but more often than not it would be a hot jazz band. Following the first successful recording of a blues record, taking place in 1920 by Mamie Smith, many such artists were lucky enough to record either by chance or by popular demand. Some were or became stars, others only shone for a moment before disappearing back into the darkness of obscurity.