Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

"Document 5000 Series "

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Ishman Bracey & Charley Taylor 1928 - 1929

Ishman Bracey, vocal, guitar.
Charley Taylor, vocal piano.
Rosie Mae Moore, vocal.

With contributions by: Charlie McCoy, guitar, mandolin; Kid Ernest Michall, clarinet.
Informative booklet notes by Paul Oliver.
Detailed discography.

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. Continued...




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Big Bill Broonzy Vol 1 1927 - 1932

Big Bill Broonzy, guitar, vocal.

Including: John Thomas, guitar, speech; Frank Brasswell, guitar.; "Georgia Tom" Dorsey, piano; Steele Smith, banjo, vocal.

Genres: Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Hokum.
Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

When Big Bill Broonzy came to Chicago from Arkansas in 1920 he was still "country" but, as he was to prove time and again in his long career, he was also adaptable and despite his supremely affable, easy-going manner he knew what he wanted and was prepared to persevere until he got it. One of the things he wanted was to make records. Continued...




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Big Bill Broonzy Vol 2 1932 - 1934

Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar.

With contributions by: probably Black Bob, piano; Steele Smith, vocal, banjo; Roy Palmer, trombone, Jimmy Bertrand, washboard; probably Charlie Jackson, banjo and others.

Genres: Pre-war Blues, Mississippi Blues, Chicago Blues, Blues Guitar, Jug Band.

Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

From this album's booklet notes.
By 1932 Big Bill Broonzy had got the measure of the music business. He was well known in Chicago and, with his winning ways and talent, had become intimate with the leading musicians of his time and place and was laying down the base of the edifice he graced so easily in later years when he became a father figure for the post war blues. Continued..




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Big Bill Broonzy Vol 3 1934 - 1935

Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar.

With contributions from: Black Bob, piano; Jazz Gillum, vocal, harmonica; Carl Martin, guitar; Zeb Wright, violin; Louis Lasky, guitar; and others.

Genres: Blues, Early Chicago blues, blues guitar, blues harmonica.

Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

From this album's booklet notes.
Prior to the recordings presented here Bill had worked with Georgia Tom Dorsey to produce one of the many successful guitar/piano combinations that were so popular in the wake of Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, the latter being a man to whom Bill gave a lot of attention. They had worked with Jane Lucas and the results were nothing like the blues and stomps of Bill's first appearances in the recording studios. Following this he had formed an alliance with pianist Black Bob with whom he worked the clubs and recorded. Along with Bob he would join with a group of other humble toilers in the local entertainment industry to produce the State Street Boys. Continued...



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Montana Taylor 1929 - 1946 and the complete

Montana Taylor 1929 – 1946 and the complete “Freddie” Shayne 1935-1946

Featuring:
Montana Taylor, vocal, piano.
Bertha “Chippie” Hill, vocal.
Harry “Freddie” Shayne, vocal, piano.
With contributions by: Almond Leonard, washboard, kazoo; Baby Dodds, drums; Lee Collins, trumpet, John Lindsay, stand-up bass.

Informative booklet notes by Karl Gert zur Heide
Detailed discography.

Well into the '60s, Arthur "Montana" Taylor and Henry "Freddie" Shayne, two Midwestern blues cum boogie pianists whose names were familiar from some "race" records, were rumoured to be still living around Cleveland and Chicago respectively. Paul Affeldt, editor of Jazz Report and producer of the Euphonic piano LP series, tried to locate them, obviously without success. Two decades earlier, architect and author Rudi Blesh was more fortunate and recorded Taylor and Shayne for his revivalist Circle label in Chicago. Two decades before that, both musicians had cut their first sides there for the one and only Mayo Williams (who was probably responsible for Shayne's 1935 session, too) after their recording potential had been spotted in St. Louis (Shayne, 1924) and Indianapolis (Taylor, 1929), two cities with strong piano traditions.




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Storefront & Streetcorner Gospel 1927 - 1929

Featuring;
Washington Phillips, vocal, dulceola.
A.C. Forehand, vocal, harmonica, guitar.
Blind Mamie Forehand, vocal, finger cymbals.
Luther Magby, vocal with unknown organ; unknown tambourine.

Genre; Gospel.

Informative booklet notes by Guido van Rijn.
Detailed discography.

From this album's booklet notes:
WASHINGTON PHILIPS
In 1983 Lynn Abbott discovered a photograph and a drawing of Washington Phillips. The photo is the size of a postage stamp and was found in an issue of the Louisiana Weekly, dated a week before the release of Phillips' first 78. The photo shows Phillips holding two stringed instruments. It has become clear that Phillips experimented with various homemade instruments. However, none of the above informants saw him play in the recording studio. The Columbia executive who gave Paul Oliver the name "dulceola" did. Continued...



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Sonny Boy Williamson Vol 1 1937 - 1938

(5th May 1937 to 17th June 1938)
 
Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, vocal, harmonica.
With contributions by: Big Joe Williamson, guitar; Robert (Nighthawk) Lee McCoy, guitar; Walter Davis, piano; Henry Townsend, guitar; Yank Rachell, guitar and others...

Genres: Blues, Blues Harmonica, Chicago Blues, Urban Blues.

Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

In a brief life of thirty four years Sonny Boy Williamson achieved immortality as the pioneer of what was to become part of the post war electric sound of the Chicago Blues. To allow the harmonica, sometimes described as a 'semi-legitimate' instrument, to compete in a band environment, with drums, usually a piano and recently amplified guitars Sonny Boy literally embraced the microphone along with the harmonica to great effect. Often he would dove-tailing and blend the sound of the instrument with the beginning or end his songs lines. His popularity and influence were immense and survive until today. His techniques paved the way for many blues artists, including Sonny Boy (Rice Miller) Williamson, Little Walter, Junior Wells and many others. This, the first of five remarkable volumes from Document of the complete recordings of the father of amplified blues harmonica, demonstrates how Sonny Boy Williamson 1st brought the instrument from the country to the city and turned the small, pocket sized instrument into a major voice in the blues.




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Sonny Boy Williamson Vol 2 1938 - 1939

Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, vocal, harmonica.

With contributions by: Walter Davis, piano; Yank Rachell, mandolin; Robert (Nighthawk) Lee McCoy, guitar; Speckled Red, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar.

Genres: Chicago blues, Blues harmonica, Urban Blues

Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

From this album's booklet notes:

By 1938 any lingering doubts Bluebird might have had about Sonny Boy Williamson had been laid to rest and they had him in the studio three times that year. Sonny Boy was joined by Big Joe Williams and Yank Rachell during his second session in the studio and it is speculated to be the latter playing guitar on the rather hastily arranged title track My Baby I've Been Your Slave. For the second number Yank Rachell is on his more usual instrument, the Mandolin, to contribute to the crisp backing of Whiskey Headed Blues, a number that has since been given various treatments by artists such as Tommy McClennan and John Lee Hooker. On Shannon Street Sonny Boy describes getting drunk in Jackson and his wife's reaction to the event. Alcohol and Sonny Boy Williamson were not a good mix and he would have increasing problems with it throughout his life. Deep Down In The Ground is built on the base of another song "Stack of Dollars", a song associated with Sleepy John Estes and often performed by Big Joe Williams.

 




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Sonny Boy Williamson Vol 3 1939 - 1941

Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, vocal, harmonica.

With contributions by: Walter Davis, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; Blind John Davis, piano; Joshua Altheimer piano and others...

Genres: Chicago Blues, Blues Harmonica, Urban Blues

Informative booklet notes by keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

From this album's booklet notes:
The opening eleven tracks on this Document Records Sonny Boy Williamson CD represent the greater part of his only studio appearance in 1939. Sonny Boy was again accompanied by Big Bill Broonzy on guitar and Walter Davis on piano. The first track T.B. Blues is a sombre recording of Victoria Spivey's influential 1929 song. In Good Gal Blues Sonny Boy complains about how much singing he has to do; "Lost my voice, didn't do nothin' but make a lot of noise" registering a mild disapproval at the length of the session but if so he was back on fine form with a report on the heavyweight boxing fight between Joe Louis and John Henry. Other themes explored are the prison inspired tracks New Jail House Blues and Life Time Blues. Big Bill Broonzy again proves his worth on the fast and jivey track Tell Me Baby a song much favoured by blues singers. The session ends with Honey Bee one of two separate songs with this title recorded by Sonny Boy.



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Sonny Boy Williamson Vol 4 1941 - 1945

(4th April 1941 to 2nd July 1945)

Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, vocal, harmonica.
Includes: Blind John Davis, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; Ransom Knowling, stand-up bass; Charlie McCoy, guitar; Washboard Sam, washboard; Eddie Boyd, piano; and others...

Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

From the date of his first recordings in 1937 (Document DOCD-5055) until his death a decade later Sonny Boy Williamson was the undisputed king of the blues harmonica, at least in Chicago. Although there were plenty of other artists using the instrument only William 'Jazz' Gillum achieved anything like the popularity of the boy from Jackson, Tennessee and even Jazz could never claim the mastery that Sonny Boy underlined with every performance.

The period spanned on this Volume encompasses the bulk of World War Two and the infamous ban on recording brought about by James C. Petrillo. Petrillo became president of the Chicago local of the musician's union in 1922, and was president of the American Federation of Musicians from 1940 to 1958. Petrillo dominated the union with absolute authority. His most famous actions were banning all commercial recordings by union members from 1942 - 1944 and again in 1948 to pressure record companies to give better royalty deals to musicians. Although Sonny Boy never commented on this event he was very vocal about the conflict which he saw as a chance for the black American to both prove himself and improve his lot.  Continued...




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Sonny Boy Williamson Vol 5 1945 - 1947

DOCD-5059 Sonny Boy Williamson Vol 5 (1945 ļæ½ 1947) Sonny Boy (John Lee)

Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, vocal, harmonica.
Includes: Big Maceo, piano; Tampa Red, guitar; Blind John Davis, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; Big Willie Dixon, stand-up bass; Eddie Boyd, piano; Judge Riley, drums; Ransom Knowling, stand-up bass; and others...

Genres: Blues, Blues Harmonica, Chicago Blues, Urban Blues.

Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

Between 1944 and the end of his career (and life) in 1948, Sonny Boy Williamson had gone from strength to strength. He had already made reference in song to his appreciation of artists like Fats Waller and he seemed determinedly updating his sound. More and more of Sonny Boy's recordings featured a solid up tempo beat, often provided by drummers such as Jump Jackson or Judge Riley, and the guitarists and the pianists that he favoured (Willie Lacy, big Bill Broonzy and Blind John Davis - even Big Maceo and the ever adaptable Tampa Red for one session) were also capable of moving with the times, providing jazzier accompaniments to show off Sonny Boy's ever increasing skills on the harmonica. Continued...




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Rev Blind Gary Davis 1935 - 1949

Blind / Rev. Gary Davis, vocal guitar

Includes one recording by Bull City Red (George Washington), vocal.

Genres: Guitar evangelist, Ragtime guitar, Gospel, Country blues, Blues guitar.

Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.

From this album's booklet notes.
When Gary Davis made his first records in New York in 1935, he'd been a guitarist for many years; born in Laurens, SC in 1896, by 1904 he owned his own guitar and was playing for dances. By 1911, he was a member of Willie Walker's string band in Greenville. At some point, probably during his first marriage, which lasted from 1919 to 1924, Davis moved to North Carolina, and when he came to record, he was an associate of Blind Boy Fuller, who was also to make his debut on disc on this occasion. Davis was a guitar genius; that much is obvious from the first notes of this CD. Continued...



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