Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

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The Earliest Negro Vocal Quartets 1894 - 1928

Various artists.

Genre; Vocal quartets, spirituals and secular. Acapella, or with guitar or banjo accompaniment.

Informative booklet notes by Ray Funk.
Includes detailed discography.

Before blues, before jazz, the tradition of black male quartets, four-part harmony singing by African Americans was an established tradition of richness and complexity. Little recognised, almost all of the earliest aural artefacts of music by African Americans were quartet selections. All known examples of these extremely rare recordings are presented on this collection. Several of these are the only copies of a particular artefact and the listener must appreciate that these recordings stem from the dawn of recording technology and many are in poor shape such as the only known surviving cylinder by the Standard Quintette, Keep Movin. The Standard Quintette who recorded several cylinders for Columbia in 1894 were active on the concert stage at the time. This is the first Nineteenth Century recording of African American music that has been recovered and is an event despite the fact that what music remains is buried under a great deal of surface noise. Continued...

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