Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

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Rev F W McGee Vol 2 1929 - 1930

With the second volume in the series, Rev. F.W. McGee’s gospel style turns almost exclusively to straightahead preaching, with only minimal musical backing. It’s not that much of a stretch to suggest that this kind of gospel is a kind of early precursor to rap — the rhythms and patterns of McGee’s preaching are highly musical, and his wordplay on sides like Women’s Clothes (You Can’t Hide) and Testifyin’ Meeting is lyrical and imaginative. While these sermonizing records are by no means the place for new listeners to begin, for historians they offer fascinating insight into another of the many facets of the pre-war gospel sound. – Jason Ankeny




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Will Ezell 1927 - 1931

With the exception of some sessions accompanying other singers, the complete Will Ezell is on this single CD. A talented blues and boogie-woogie pianist, Ezell led four mostly instrumental solo sessions (resulting in 12 performances). In addition, his dates backing singers Marie Bradley, Ora Brown, Bertha Henderson, and Slim Tarpley are also included on this enjoyable and historic CD. Among the more rewarding selections are Barrel House Man, Mixed Up Rag, Heifer Dust, Playing the Dozen, and Pitchin’ Boogie. – Scott Yanow

 




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Little Brother Montgomery - Vocal Accompaniments & Early Post-War Recordings 1930 - 1954

Best known for the astonishing "Vicksburg Blues" and "No Special Rider Blues," the barrelhousing Little Brother Montgomery was a great writer and arguably the most versatile of all blues piano men. He grew up listening to ragtime, idolized Jelly Roll Morton, and absorbed stride and boogie into his early style; while his roots remained obvious, he stayed up-to-date until his 1985 death.†Eleven tracks as accompanist, four fronting a jazz band, and nine postwar solo tracks on which he sounds like two men playing at once. - John Mothland




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Elder Curry & Elder Beck 1930 - 1939

Elder Curry and Elder Beck both were singing evangelists, solid instrumentalists (Curry on guitar, Beck on piano and trumpet), and with their fervent, stomping approach to a sort of blues-tinged gospel, they inadvertently prefigured rock & roll. Many have sited Curry’s 1930 recording of Memphis Flu (which features Elder Beck on piano) as the first glimmer of rock & roll, and with its relentless 4/4 drive and the energy of Curry’s clapping and foot-stomping congregation added in, it certainly rocks, although the message is a little sobering, as Curry tells his listeners in a fire-and-brimstone style that influenza is a manifestation of God’s wrath at sinners. Given that some 700,000 Americans died during the influenza outbreak of 1918/1919, the tone of Memphis Flu seems to lack any degree of compassion, but it is a fascinating song, full of an odd, contrary joy that seems to belie its intent, and it definitely gets your feet moving. This release from Document Records contains Memphis Flu as well as the rest of Curry’s recorded work, done for Okeh Records in 1930. Continued...




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Lucille Bogan Vol 1 1923 - 1930

14 track compilation split (21 tracks in total) evenly down the middle between Bogan and her main piano accompanist, Roland, who also doubles on guitar on some tracks. The Bogan sides are a particular delight, featuring a version of Barbecue Bess that is nothing short of sublime. As all of these tracks are rescued off highly battered 78s, the fidelity is about what you would expect. But that's no reason to deter you from enjoying this timeless music.




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Lucille Bogan Vol 2 1930 - 1933



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Cow Cow Davenport The Accompanist 1924 - 1929

Like many African American pianists of his generation, Cow Cow Davenport made ends meet during the 1920s by providing accompaniment for blues and jazz vocalists in established or temporary recording studios. In order to illustrate this aspect of his career and bring more rare material out of the woodwork, 22 sides cut during the years 1924-1929 were reissued by Document in 1994. Continued...




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Charlie (Specks) McFadden 1929 - 1937

Charlie “Specks” McFadden was not destined to become famous, but at the time he made his debut recordings in 1929, he was considered one of the top blues-oriented singers based in St. Louis.

A good friend of Roosevelt Sykes, who plays piano on 12 of the 20 selections included on this CD, McFadden was a fine blues singer. He had a minor hit with Groceries on the Shelf which has three versions included on this disc. Apparently, McFadden was quite a character, being arrested 13 times during 1929-1935, including ten times for gambling, which gives credibility to his version of Gambler’s Blues. Continued...




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Carolina Slim - Complete Recorded Titles 1950 - 1952

Carolina Slim; vocal, guitar.

Genres; Post-war Country Blues, North Carolina blues, Blues guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

Abridged booklet notes.
Ed Harris was a man of many names; like certain other blues singers he seemed to delight in his shifting identity, flitting between styles of performance as easily as he did between pseudonyms. He made a substantial dent on the post war blues market - substantial that is for an itinerant musician of the old school who got his start by working around the tobacco growing region of Durham, North Carolina, for tips. Like most singers from that area he was heavily influenced by Blind Boy Fuller but, by the time Harris came to record the wider distribution of records both for private purchase and for use in Juke boxes, brought about by the boom conditions of the second world war, meant that he was quite as familiar with the work of Texan, Lightnin' Hopkins, as he was with that of singers from his own bailiwick. Harris' first recordings were made in 1950 when he was only seventeen years old. They were cut for Herman Lubinsky's Savoy set-up and released under the Acorn logo as by Carolina Slim.




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Jesse Thomas 1948 - 1958

This 28-song compilation is a serious listening workout, in the best possible meaning of the description. Assembled here are all of the post-World War II sides by Jesse Thomas, recorded variously for Miltone Records, his own short-lived Club label, Freedom, Modern, Swing Time, Specialty, Elko, and Hollywood, across a period of ten years. This was a period in which Thomas embraced a vast range of sounds, all of them with remarkable effectiveness but without a lot of consistency. One of Thomas' virtues and problems was that he may have been too versatile for his own good — based on the evidence of this collection, on which no two groups of recordings, even done within the same year (albeit for different labels) sound the same, he seems not to have stuck with a sound long enough to have built an audience.




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Piano Discoveries 1928 - 1943

 

 

 

This compilation disc contains an astonishing array of blues and boogie-woogie piano artists that will be of interest to anyone who has an ear for this genre of music. Some of the selections are outtakes, while others are never-before-released recordings. The latter are from vinyl records that were made in the ’40s. Among the artists featured are Lee Green, Judson Brown with Charlie “Bozo” Nicherson, Leroy Carr with Scrapper Blackwell, Charles “Cow Cow” Davenport, Georgia Tom with Tampa Red, Memphis Slim, Little Brother Montgomery, Roosevelt Sykes with Walter Davis, Thomas A. Dorsy, Ivy Smith, Ezra Howelett Shelton, Cripple Clarence Lofton, Jimmy and Mama Yancey, and Alonzo Yancey. The quality of the recordings is variable, but listening to them is still worthwhile for their historical and musical value. The repertoire ranges from the well-known The Girl I’m Looking For, Beer Drinking Woman, and Church House Blues to the more obscure Mama and Jimmy Blues, Deep End Boogie, and Poor Old Bachelor Blues. Dialogue by various artists is interspersed throughout this fascinating historical document. – Rose of Sharon Witmer.




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Roosevelt Sykes Vol 8 1945 - 1947

Volume eight in the complete recordings of Roosevelt Sykes as reissued by Document covers his Victor/Bluebird output from 1945 through October 1947. During this portion of his lengthy career, Sykes brought in some of Chicago's toughest sessionmen, including a brace of horn players who fortified the texture of his act and summoned a jazz element that blended well with his steadily ripening approach to blues and boogie-woogie. Sykes' saxophonists on this collection have been identified as J.T. Brown, Bill Casimir, Calmes Julian, Oett "Sax" Mallard, Martin Rough, and Leon Washington. He also used trumpeters Lucius Henderson and Johnny Morton, as well as a clarinetist by the name of Johnny Walker, and quite an assortment of guitarists, bassists, and drummers. Sykes, who made his first recordings in 1929 and continued to perform until shortly before his death in 1983, was most often heard as soloist or leader of small rhythm combos. That makes his bristly post-war sessions all the more intriguing, as wind instruments add extra layers to his already substantial weave of visceral vocals and double-fisted piano. – arwulf arwulf.

 




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