Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

"Document Specials "

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Bessie Tucker 1928 - 1929

Bessie Tucker, vocal.

With contributions by: K.D. (Mr. 49) Johnson, piano; Jesse "Babyface" Thomas, guitar.

Genres: Female vocal blues; Country blues, Texas blues.

Informative booklet notes by Roger Misiewicz.
Detailed discography.

Taken from this album's booklet notes.
Bessie Tucker first recorded in Memphis, Tennessee on August 28, 1928. From the sole surviving picture of her, she would appear to have been a young woman at the time, slim and fine featured. To all outward appearance, here is a genteel "high yellow" indeed.

However, once you hear her voice, immediately there is a marked difference from what you would have expected. A sombre, even somewhat dangerous aura comes immediately to the forefront. Moans, songs of travel, jail, fights with men, women and knowledge of the police are brought forward in a manner that could be artistry of the highest level, or otherwise mere brutal honesty - telling the stories she knew in song directly, personally, and immediately. If you listen with the latter assumptions, this initial session has a slice of life quality seldom equalled in the blues. Continued...




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Rev D C Rice 1928 - 1930

Rev D.C. Right, sermons with singing. Includes; Mr. Hunter, trombone, Louis Hooper,

Rev D.C. Right, sermons with singing.

Includes; Mr. Hunter, trombone, Louis Hooper, piano; Unknown, mandolin, triangle, trombone, stand-up bass, tambourine, trumpet, drums.

Genres: Preacher with Sermon and Singing accompanied by instruments. Gospel.

Informative booklet notes by Roger Misiewicz
Includes detailed discography.

From this album's booklet notes.
Zora Neale Hurston wrote “All Negro-made church music is dance-possible… The service is really drama with music.  And since music without motion is unnatural among Negroes there is always something that approaches dancing – in fact, IS dancing – in such a ceremony.  So the congregation is restored to its primitive altars under the new name of Christ.”

This description must describe to a tee the experience of being at a service held by the Reverend D.C. Rice. Recordings begin with words of teachings, short passages from the bible, warnings not to stray from the path of good and then.. the good reverend, his congregation, musicians and singers erupt into a joyful (it is tempting to use the word riotous) sound that brings together jazz and gospel, in a way that would be inspirational to the most ardent non-believer.  Continued...




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Tampa Red Vol 1 1928 - 1929

Tampa Red, vocal, bottleneck slide guitar

With contributions by: “Georgia Tom” (Thomas A. Dorsey) vocal, piano; Forster & Harris, vocal; Madlyn (Red Hot Shakin’) Davis, vocal; Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon, vocal; Martell Pettiford, guitar; Herman Brown, kazoo, washboard; Carl Reid, jazzhorn, jug.

Genres; Country blues, Pre-war Chicago blues, hokum, blues guitar, blues piano, bottleneck slide guitar.

Informative booklet notes by Teddy Doering.
Includes detailed discography.

From this CDs booklet notes.
Through Train Blues was a strange one to kick off a recording career with and one cannot help but wonder if the gentle huffing and puffing of a tuba to fill out a bass rhythm was Tampa’s idea or that of someone else trying to be creative at the recording session for Paramount records. Either way, it kind of works, depending on one’s mood and at least it gets Tampa off the mark with some characteristic slide guitar playing and a song.

For the moment, that was it…, one side and no more! The recording was issued as a flip side to Blind Lemon Jefferson “How Long How Long” (Document DOCD-5019) maybe as a ploy to encourage the market to listen to Tampa. After four months Tampa was in the recording studio again but this time only as a session man for Foster And Harris (Ma Rainey’s Boys) as they played out The Alley Crap Game a performance which would be taken up by the two blues brothers from Georgia Robert “Barbecue Bob” Hicks and Charlie “Laughing Charlie” Hicks in 1930 with their “Dark Town Gamblin’ – Part 1 (The Crap Game)” (Document DOCD-5048). Dodging the ricocheting dices, Tampa provides a gentle slide guitar accompaniment and keeps out of the arguing between the two gamblers. Continued...




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Tampa Red Vol 2 12th January to 27th June 1929

Tampa Red, vocal, guitar, bottleneck-slide guitar.

The Hokum Boys: Tampa Red, vocal, guitar; Georgia Tom Dorsey, piano.
Tampa Red’s Hokum Jug Band: Tampa Red, vocal guitar; unknown, piano; Bill Johnson, stand-up bass; Herman Brown, washboard; Carl Reid, jazzhorn, jug; Frankie “Half Pint” Jaxon, vocal.
Gospel Camp Meeting singers: Vocal group; accompanied by Tampa Red, guitar; possibly Georgia Tom Dorsey, piano.
Lil Johnson, vocal

Genres: Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues piano, Hokum Blues.

Informative booklet notes by Teddy Doering.
Detailed discography.

From this CDs booklet notes.
The first session included here is a remake of a session that took place in December 1928. Why the original titles were not released, is not quite clear. Anyway, the January 1929 session showed a mixture of straight, low down blues and so-called “hokum blues”. This was to become Tampa Red’s trademark for the next three or four years. Following the success of “It’s Tight Like That”, Tampa Red and Georgia Tom recorded a couple of titles in mid-tempo with a refrain and double-entendre lyrics, often combined with a tongue-in-cheek-way of looking at things. (What about this as a definition for “hokum”?) On five titles we also hear Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon, an enigmatic singer, who fits perfectly in Tampa’s hokum concept. Continued...




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Tampa Red Vol 3 1929 - 1930

Tampa Red, vocal, bottleneck slide guitar.

With contributions by;

Jenny Pope, vocal.
Georgia Tom, vocal, piano.
Jasper Taylor, washboard.
Frankie-Half-Pint Jaxon, vocal.
Bill Johnson, stand-up bass.
And others…

Genre; blues guitar, blues piano, hokum, bottleneck slide guitar.

Informative booklet notes by Teddy Doering.
Detailed discography.

Taken from this album's booklet notes.
You might call it a period of transition, for after a fulminate start with their success of "It's Tight Like That" and a period of follow-ups, the duo of Tampa Red and Georgia Tom gradually left the "hokum" genre and concentrated more and more on two easy things: the swinging, jazz-influenced up-tempo pieces like "Easy Rider", and they got deeper and deeper into the real slow blues numbers, exploring several aspects of blues playing, and it is plain to hear that especially Tampa Red was getting more and more self confident in his playing refining his guitar style to a degree that he really became a champion, or in other words, a "guitar wizard". Continued...

 




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Bo Carter Vol 1 1928 - 1931

Bo Chatman (Bo Carter) vocal, guitar.

Includes Mary Butler (probably Rosie Mae Moore) vocal.

With contributions by: Lonnie Chatmon, violin; Charlie McCoy, mandolin; Walter Vincson, guitar.

Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Mississippi Blues, Blues Guitar, String Band.

Informative booklet notes.
Detailed discography.

From this album's booklet notes.
Bo's first appearance on record seems to be a Columbia session held in Atlanta, Georgia on November 2, 1928, where he, Charlie and Joe McCoy, and an unknown pianist, backed a singer named Alec Johnson. A Columbia session did take place on December 17, 1928 in New Orleans, with Bo, Charlie McCoy and Walter Vincson, where two titles were cut as the Jackson Blue Boys. But before that session, the group ran into the Brunswick mobile unit and recorded as Charlie McCoy and Do Chatman, as well as backing Mary Butler on four titles. After Good Old Turnip Greens the vocal chores were turned over to Mary Butler for four blues titles. Bungalow Blues was handled smoothly, although a bit stiffly, with its occasional II and VI chords lending it a vaudeville flavour. On Mary Blues the blues style in the vocal was harder and the guitarist (probably Vincson) begins the instrumental introduction with a few bluesy slurs. On Electric Chair Blues the mandolinist had the same difficulty as on Mary Blues, and Butler cut Mad Dog Blues to better effect with only Vincson on guitar (including some mandolin imitation on the breaks). Continued...




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Bo Carter Vol 2 5th June 1931 to 26th March 1934

Bo Carter, vocal, guitar.
 
With contributions by Lonnie Chatman, violin.
 
Genres: Country Blues, Mississippi Blues, Country Blues Guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Ken Romanowski
Detailed discography.
 
In the time between his December 1928 New Orleans session and his next solo recording date at the King Edward Hotel in Jackson, Mississippi on December 15, 1930, Bo Carter had participated in numerous sessions in the role of accompanist. There were two sessions in Memphis in late September 1929 and February 1930 where Chatman's Mississippi Hotfooters (with Carter probably on violin) backed both Walter Vincent (Vincson) and Charlie McCoy on several tracks apiece. On these occasions he most likely had contact with some of the other artists who recorded there. Included among their number were some of the more popular and influential Race artists of the period: Jim Jackson, Tampa Red, Georgia Tom, Speckled Red, Furry Lewis, Memphis Minnie, Kansas Joe, Robert Wilkins, Jed Davenport, and Garfield Akers. Continued...



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Bo Carter Vol 3: 27 March 1934 to 20 February 1936

Bo Carter, vocal, guitar.

With contributions by Harry Chatmon, piano (tracks 13 & 14)

Genres; Country Blues, Mississippi Blues, Country Blues Guitar.

Informative booklet notes by Ken Romanowski
Detailed discography.

The first Bluebird sessions in March of 1934 marked a return to the studio for Bo after a two and a half year absence. Tastes in blues had changed and the record companies could no longer afford to take chances on untested acts or untried material. A more disciplined approach was applied in the studio and this sometimes led to records that sounded formulaic or unexciting. Bo Carter's records at this time showed as much or more diversity as any of his recording rivals and his regular trips to the studio attested to his popularity. Continued...




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Bo Carter Vol 4: 20 February 1936 to 22 October 1938

Bo Carter, vocal guitar.

Genres: Country Blues, Mississippi Blues, Country Blues Guitar.

Informative booklet notes by Ken Romanowski.
Detailed discography.

It has taken quite some time for Bo Carter's rightful place in blues history to be established. His music was complicated and multifaceted. The question of whether his lyrics are "pornographic" or merely an uninhibited and even healthy view of sexuality is really a relative one. There is certainly enough "raw" data contained in Bo Carter - Vol. 4 for the listener to come to his own conclusion. All Around Man, It's Too Wet, Cigarette Blues, Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me, and Don't Mash My Digger So Deep are classics of their type and the gorgeous guitar work on "Cigarette Blues" alone should be enough to persuade even the casual listener that there is more here than suggestive wordplay. Continued...




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Bo Carter Vol 5: 22 October 1938 to 12 February 1940

Bo Carter, vocal, guitar.
 
Genres: Country Blues, Mississipi Blues, Country Blues Guitar.
 
Informative booklet notes by Ken Romanowski.
Detailed discography.

Bo Carter was still touring the South with the Mississippi Sheiks in the years 1930 through 1935. This activity took the band through Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, and as far north as Illinois and New York. During this period Bo's eyesight got progressively worse and he eventually went blind sometime in the 1930s. This ensuing blindness and the disbanding of the Sheiks led Carter to concentrate on his solo recordings. On October 22, 1938 he had his longest session ever, recording eighteen titles in one day, all but one of them issued. This session produced some of his most advanced music from a structural and harmonic standpoint. Continued...




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Mississippi Sheiks Vol 1 1930

Mississippi Sheiks.
Includes; Walter Vincson, vocal, guitar; Lonnie Chatman, vocal, violin; Bo Carter, vocal, guitar, violin.
 
Genres: String band, Country Blues, Mississippi blues.
 
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.
 
From this album's booklet notes:
It wasn't until February 1930 that the Mississippi Sheiks encountered Okeh's field recording unit in Shreveport, Louisiana, some distance from their base in the Jackson, Mississippi area. Their name was made up at the recording session at the request of producer Polk Brockman, and was apparently inspired by the pop hit 'Sheik of Araby', although the word was common in black speech, thanks to Rudolph Valentino. Continued...



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Mississippi Sheiks Vol 2: 17th February to 12th June 1930

Mississippi Sheiks
Includes; Walter Vincson, vocal, guitar; Lonnie Chatman, violin.
 
Genres: String band, Mississippi blues, Country Blues.
 
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.
 
Taken from this album's booklet notes:
In December 1930 the Sheiks were in Jackson, Mississippi, near to their home, when the Okeh field unit came by. Walter Vinson. Many of the numbers cut in are distinctly lowdown and blue. The Sheiks remade their two hits, Sitting On Top Of The World and Stop And Listen, with new lyrics as powerful as the originals, and Still I'm Travelling On was also closely related to the former title. Times Done Got Hard was about the Depression, and Unhappy Blues has a remarkable lyric about imprisonment. Honey Babe Let The Deal Go Down may have been prompted by a record company request for a version of "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues", by the white, Old-Timey artist Charlie Poole. If so, it's evident that the Sheiks weren't familiar with Poole's song, but they nevertheless produced a fine blues from the given title. She Ain't No Good, with its scurrilous comments on the alleged ways of country girls, is in the lighter vein of hokum, but Vinson was back to blues for the rest of the session. Ramrod Blues mines the Sheiks' rich vein of sexual metaphor, perhaps instigated by Bo, and Church Bell Blues, like Stop and Listen, drew its inspiration from a funeral, a topic to which Vinson returned with a frequency that seems literally morbid, but one which often evoked inspired guitar playing from him. Continued...



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