FEATURED ARTIST / S
Jimmy Yancey piano solos.
Also, two tracks by vocalist Faber Smith, accompanied by Jimmy Yancey.
Genres: Blues piano, Boogie-woogie piano.
Informative booklet notes by Konrad Nowakowski
“Veteran...Jim Yancey, whose dancing thrilled the King and Queen of England in 1913, still is active. Jim taught Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons some of his tricks, but went unrecorded until a few months ago when Solo Art waxed his blues. Today Yancey is a grounds keeper for the Sox.”
By the end of the thirties, however, he was not really “active” as a performer any more. When he was asked to record for Solo Art, he had to practice before he felt able to comply. 17 takes were made, but only Jimmy’s Stuff and The Fives (not related to the famous train piece) could be issued before the Solo Art label ran out of money. The rest remained untitled and unreleased until after Jimmy’s death..
Of those posthumous releases, Janie’s Joys, Yancey Limited, P.L.K. Special and Yancey’ s Getaway were variants of The Fives whereas Steady Rock Blues and Lucille’s Lament, Jimmy’s prototype of what was later recorded as Sweet Patootie but also as The Mellow Blues and under other titles, were related to Jimmy’s Stuff, Lean Bacon and Rolling The Stone (recorded as State Street Special for Victor), La Salle Street Breakdown and Beezum Blues (recorded as Old Quaker Blues for Vocalion), Two O’Clock Blues and Bear Train (used in Bluebird’s Cryin’ In My Sleep) and, of course, the two takes of How Long Blues were variants of the same tunes. With the exception of How Long Blues the titles, chosen by Riverside for LP release, camouflaged this and all connections with later recordings. A Jimmy’s Stuff No. 2 was also invented when Riverside reissued what was in fact the original take.
Yancey was a retired barrelhouse player and his style was archaic and, in a way, anachronistic at the time of his first recordings. But with the boogie wave sweeping the country, Yancey Special being a hit and that story of Ammons and Lewis being his pupils, it is no surprise that he was now approached by a big record company. He responded with what are regarded as some of his best achievements as far as piano technique and a dynamic performance are concerned. Yancey Stomp, State Street Special and The Mellow Blues were re-recordings of Solo Art material but the other three tunes were new. The six sides were released as an album entirely dedicated to Yancey and with an analytical essay by William Russell, both an unusual honour at that time. The album was not yet on the market when Yancey was recorded again, this time by Vocalion, in February 1940. On two titles, he accompanied vocals that were released as by Faber Smith. Some have suggested that this was a pseudonym for Yancey, partly because of the identity of the lyrics in I Received A Letter and Yancey’s Death Letter Blues which differ from those of other singers. The voice, however, is clearly not the same and according to blues historian Karl Gert zur Heide, Faber Smith was a well known South Side character. The Vocalion session ended with two instrumentals, Bear Trap Blues and Old Quaker Blues which are reissued on DOCD-5042. Both were new versions of titles that had been recorded by Solo Art.