FEATURED ARTIST / S
Jimmy Yancey, piano, harmonium.
Mama Yancey, vocal
Alonzo Yancey, vocal, piano.
Genres: Country Blues, Blues Piano, Ragtime Piano.
Informative booklet notes by Konrad Nowakowski.
“Everybody liked it when Yancey was playing ‘cause it seems like you could come into a place where he was and the whole house would be jumping. Everybody was up there clapping or beating their hands or beating their feet, keeping up time with him. I’m telling you, brother, it wasn’t nothing short by him. He had them going.” Meade Lux Lewis.
Yancey’s recordings for the Session label produced some of his deepest instrumental blues, among those I Received A Letter and it’s even better alternative take, At The Window as well as the two different takes of How Long Blues (issued on DOCD-5042). Session, however, took also care of the livelier side of Yancey’s talent by recording not only a last version of The Fives this time as Midnight Stomp and two takes of a piece aptly titled The Rocks and Jimmy’s Rocks (on DOCD-5042), but also the White Sox Stomp which is quite unparalleled in Yancey’s consequent use of a walking bass.
It was for Session also that Yancey cut his first Yancey Special rather late regarding the fact that this piece, recorded by Meade Lux Lewis, had led to Yancey’s discovery and that he claimed to be its composer. Yancey’s Eternal Blues and his version of Shave ‘Em Dry were also introduced on the Session label. Shave ‘Em Dry seems more related to the 1929 version by James “Boodle It” Wiggins, with possibly Charlie Spand as pianist, than to other recordings of that tune.
The sides with Estella “Mama” Yancey, born in 1896 and married to Jimmy Yancey since 1919, were another Session premiere. Mama’s singing style is unique and perhaps not to everyone’s liking, but she had always been performing with Jimmy and was part of his life and his music. Mama’s Pallet On The Floor recorded with organ as well as with piano accompaniment, comes close to revealing all of the song’s implications as described by Jelly Roll Morton in one of his suppressed Library of Congress recordings.
Session completed its documentary work by recording Alonzo Yancey, Jimmy’s older brother, who was a barrelhouse ragtime player and who is regarded as an early influence on Jimmy. Alonzo and not Jimmy Yancey is remembered as the “composer” of Yancey Special by Champion Jack Dupree. When they performed together in clubs or at parties, they played quite the same kinds of music according to Jack. Traces of this may be found in Ecstatic Rag.