Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

Document Records
Jazz Gillum Vol 3 1941 - 1946

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Jazz Gillum

01 - I got somebody else
02 - Maybe you`ll love me too
03 - It looks bad for you
04 - Me and my buddy
05 - It`s all over now
06 - War time blues
07 - You are doing me wrong
08 - One letter home
09 - Down south blues
10 - You drink too much whiskey
11 - No friend blues
12 - From now on
13 - I`m gonna leave you on the outskirts of town
14 - I couldn`t help it blues
15 - My big money
16 - Woke up cold in hand
17 - Water pipe blues
18 - Tell me, mama
19 - Deep water blues
20 - You`re tearing your playhouse down
21 - Go back to the country
22 - Five feet four
23 - Afraid to trust them
24 - Whiskey head buddies
25 - Reckless rider blues

A novel exchange of letters between Eli Oberstein of RCA Victor and Rex Palmer of British EMI was discovered in EMI’s Archives at Hayes in 1993 by Richard J. Johnson and written up in the magazine Blues And Rhythm. Dated January-April 1936 the correspondence seems to have been sparked off by a request from the English side for Bill Gillum to record popular songs of the type to be found in Fred Astaire - Ginger Rogers movies! The dates would indicate that the letters were written between Gillum’s first and second sessions so the fact that Palmer should ever have heard of Gillum is remarkable in itself; could Oberstein have been touting him in a previous, undiscovered letter or had Palmer been misled by the name “jazz†or had he actually heard the results of the 1934 session? Oberstein counters the request by offering “additional harmonica solos†or the work of jazz bands white and black. His summation of Gillum’s talent is revealing; “The artist, as you know, is a negro and is unable to read music. I spent the better part of two days with him on a trip to Chicago to try to teach him to play some new popular numbers. It is absolutely impossible for him to play correctly any popular tunes.†Oberstein also stated that he did not intend to record Gillum again. That was in 1936; this collection picks up the story during the session of July 1941! On this date Washboard Sam was replaced by one Amanda Porter (the wife of Charlie McCoy) a lady whose collection of household utensils makes Sam’s scullery appear impoverished. Hear Jazz and Big Bill strain to remain serious as Amanda clouts, scrapes or rattles everything in sight; pots, pans and what sounds like the kitchen sink! At times the affect is similar to the arrival of a piece of modern sculpture at the bottom of a lift-shaft. The last song done that day was Gillum’s hymn to male bonding “Me and My Buddyâ€. By the time of Gillum’s next session Pearl Harbor had been attacked and the US was at war. In these last two sessions before the Petrillo ban on recording took effect Jazz knocked out sixteen titles including his version of Bill Weldon’s “Outskirts Of Town†and “Tell Me Mamaâ€, a number previously passed around between Big Bill and Louis Lasky. Two tracks, “Water Pipe Blues†and “You’re Tearing Your Playhouse Down†did not see issue until well into the age of the long playing record. It is some measure of Bill Gillum’s popularity that of the sixty six sides he had cut for Bluebird since 1936 these were the first to stay in the can. If these were Jazz Gillum’s glory days they were soon to be cut short when Uncle Sam tore his playhouse down by inducting him into the army. At his first post-war session he took advantage of the presence of Roosevelt Sykes to record “Five Feet Four†over Sykes’ “44s†backing. For a couple of years it seemed as if the old times had revived - but there were soon to be some major changes in public taste that would spell the end for Jazz and a lot of his contemporaries. Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs. Includes detailed discography.
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