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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Earliest Negro Vocal Quartets Vol 2 1893 - 1922
DOCD-5288 The Earliest Negro Vocal Groups Vol. 2 (1893-1922) Unique Quartette (1893) The Standard Quartette (1894-1895) Dinwiddie Colored Quartet (1902) Afro-American Folk Singers (1914) The Right Quintette (1915) Jesse Europe’s Singing Serenaders / Four Harmony Kings (1919) Excelsior Quartette (1922) Genres; Earliest Recordings of Religious & Secular Vocal Harmony Groups. Spirituals. Extensive booklet notes by Tim Brookes & Ken Romanowski. Includes detailed discography. Many writers have claimed that few recordings were made by black Americans before the jazz and blues explosion of the 1920s. This is not the case. Black bands, stage performers, street singers, quartets, choruses and even concert artists recorded during the first 30 years of commercial recording, from 1890 to 1919. Some of the more interesting examples are presented here. Continued...

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