Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

Document Records
Boogie Woogie Pioneers - Compiled and Edited by John Mayall

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Cow Cow (Charles) Davenport
01 - Cow Cow Blues Listen

Pine Top Smith
02 - Jump Steady Blues Listen

Charlie Spand
03 - Moanin' The Blues Listen

Romeo Nelson
04 - Head Rag Hop Listen

Wesley Wallace
05 - Fanny Lee Blues Listen

Little Brother Montgomery
06 - No Special Rider Listen

'Jabo' Williams
07 - Pratt City Blues Listen

Turner Parrish
08 - Fives Listen

Walter Roland
09 - Jookit Jookit Listen

Cleo Brown
10 - Boogie Woogie Listen

Jesse James
11 - Lonesome Day Blues Listen

Albert Ammons
12 - Bass Goin' Crazy Listen

Pete Johnson
13 - Holler Stomp Listen

Jimmy Yancey
14 - 35th and Dearborn Listen

Meade 'Lux' Lewis
15 - Six Wheel Chaser Listen

Jay McShann
16 - Vine Street Boogie Listen

Cripple Clarence Lofton
17 - In The Mornin' Listen

Big Maceo
18 - Chicago Breakdown Listen

Montana Taylor
19 - Indiana Avenue Stomp Listen

Memphis Slim
20 - Slim's Boogie Listen

Speckled Red
21 - Early In The Morning Listen

Otis Spann
22 - Otis In The Dark Listen

Various Artists.
Informative booklet notes written by John Mayall.
Detailed discography.

Legendary British bluesman John Mayall shares his favourite piano tracks for your listening pleasure. Intimate sleeve notes written by John with reminiscences of great Blues figures. 22 hot tracks from 1928-1960.

Robert R Calder writes:

Veteran English blues performer John Mayall's "reminiscences" here aren't "of great blues figures" but of encounters, often via recordings, of the very best barrelhouse, blues and boogie woogie piano music.

Barrelhouse piano combined various different proportions of blues, ragtime and dance rhythms in the hands of technically unorthodox players. Jelly Roll Morton spoke of "specialists —each with a tiny repertoire nobody else could play". Bang on!

Cow Cow Davenport also recorded ragtime, but Cow Cow Blues is a classic of shifting pace and boogie rhythm. Jump Steady Blues is Pinetop Smith's recorded masterpiece. His "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" fixed the genre's name but inspired better performances from others, and Cleo Brown's amusing pseudo-urbane pussy-cat reading.

Speckled Red's drivingly swung number was re-recorded when he kicked off the blues revival fifty years back. Montana Taylor's Indiana Avenue Stomp is one of two 1929 masterpieces he re-recorded for 1940s collectors. Charlie Spand's Moanin' the Blues is gentler, Romeo Nelson's Head Rag Hop a wild miracle of dance rhythms. Speckled Red's Early in the Morning is a medium-tempo rolling vocal blues. St. Louis stylist Wesley Wallace's Fanny Lee Blues is a crazy dance with a simple bass par and torrents of drastically transfigured right hand ex-ragtime licks. Indianapolis' Turner Parrish delivers a potent, fast Fives. On the storming Pratt City Blues Jabo Williams inverts conventional bass patterns, while his fellow Alabamian Walter Roland's Jookit Jookit is a jerky dance.

Versatile Little Brother Montgomery's No Special Rider is a slower medium-tempo vocal blues with a walking bass. Was Jesse James' one recording date granted as his last wish as a death cell prisoner? So said legend, factually dubious but actually apt to the vocal desperation on Lonesome Day Blues, with dissonant hammering right hand over rolling bass.

Albert Ammons' Bass Goin' Crazy is Chicago boogie woogie unsurpassed for risk-taking assurance and intensity. Six Wheel Chaser represents Meade "Lux Lewis' penchant for complex, sometimes train-like rhythms—swinging, not mechanical. Chicagoans Jimmy Yancey excelled in slow blues like 35th and Dearborn, while Cripple Clarence Lofton's strength was savage boogie, though his In The Mornin'  here is a deep and doomy blues.

Trained pianists and jazzmen seldom matched such specialists, but Kansas City fostered exceptions: Pete Johnson's Holler Stomp is cleanly fingered with relentless drive (the normally messy Memphis Slim sings over sheer imitation Pete Johnson). Even the recently departed Jay McShann's huge jazz credentials get forgotten after post-1940s market pressures kept him playing blues/R&B, with Vine Street Boogie swinging distinctively. 

Otis In The Dark returns to Chicago, 1960. Otis Spann, son of a legendary Mississippi pianist and pupil of Brother Montgomery, was possibly the last direct representative of pre-war tradition. Yet the dragging bass is new, on a magnificent fast blues by the longtime engine of the Muddy Waters band.

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