FEATURED ARTIST / S
|Rosie Mae Moore|
|New Orleans Nehi Boys|
|Taylor and Bracy|
With contributions by: Charlie McCoy, guitar, mandolin; Kid Ernest Michall, clarinet.
Informative booklet notes by Paul Oliver.
There is something hard and uncompromising about the personality of Ishmon Bracey, something challenging and direct. It is evident in the known photographs of him when he was in his late Twenties, staring fixedly at the photographer. In one shot his expression is steady, even sullen; in the more familiar cut from an old Victor catalogue he struggled a mirthless and unfriendly smile. Dressed in a suit, with collar and tie, in each case he was carefully up-to-date. "A rare combination of braggart, entertainer, musician, showman and eventually an ordained minister" is how Gayle Dean Wardlow, who interviewed him many times, chose to describe him in Blues Unlimited (No. 142). By Ishmon Bracey's own account to Dave Evans, he was a fighter too, "mixing it" with Saturday night drunks and the jealous lovers who came after his friend Tommy Johnson.
Bracey's blues are an extension of the man but they come it seems, from two basic sources. "Rock, church, rock..." comments Charlie McCoy at one point, and the moaning of the elders on the "mourner's" bench at the Baptist church of his childhood can be heard coming through his blues stanzas. His delivery is powerful, the singing of a field hand; the holler is never far away. Ishmon synthesised these two contemporary currents in his youthful experience as a singer in a convincing and personal style. With him on the 1928 sessions was Charlie McCoy: "Charlie couldn't lead. He just seconded" as Bracey explained. But he was a remarkably sensitive "seconder" and the matching of the two guitars is impeccable. On Leavin' Town Blues the manner in which one guitar echoes the phrase of the other, and then moves into integrated phrasing is a joy to hear.
"44 Charley" Taylor a pianist on the session, worked with Bracey in Mississippi. At this last session we hear Bracey unaccompanied and on Woman Woman Blues introducing a hint of Tommy Johnson's falsetto. They worked together intermittently for another ten years or so and must have made a formidable team.