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dimanche 18 août 2019

FENTON ROBINSON Blues Guitar Masters 8


FENTON ROBINSON/ BLUES GUITAR MASTERS
Volume 8

           
Malgré son immense réputation auprès des fans de blues du monde entier, Fenton Robinson est rarement cité parmi les bluesmen majeurs. Alors que son œuvre, presque toujours excellente voire remarquable, en fait un des plus accomplis des chanteurs/guitaristes du blues "moderne".
            Né le 23 septembre 1935 à Minter City, dans le Mississippi, au sein d'une famille de métayers miséreux, essentiellement élevé par sa mère, il doit quitter l'école très jeune pour aider aux travaux des champs. C'est un voisin, le guitariste Sammy Hampton, qui lui apprend les rudiments de la guitare. Mais ce n'est qu'après avoir déménagé à Memphis en 1951 que Fenton découvre les guitares des grands innovateurs de la Côte Ouest comme T-Bone Walker ou Oscar Moore, les arrangements des big bands de jazz et les voix des blues shouters tels Eddie Vinson ou Joe Williams. Ce seront toujours ces influences sophistiquées et urbaines qui domineront sa musique.
            Il décide alors de devenir musicien professionnel, forme un groupe avec Charles McGowan et parfait son éducation musicale auprès de différents musiciens chevronnés de la ville. Une démarche extrêmement inhabituelle pour un bluesman du Mississippi qui, plus tard, l'amènera à apprendre à lire et à écrire la musique et arranger l'orchestration.
            Memphis se révélant peu lucratif, Fenton gagne tenter sa chance à Little Rock en 1953, en faisant sa base de rayonnement jusqu'en 1961. Il joue dans les clubs de jazz et de blues, anime une émission de radio sur KXLR, présentant tous les talents de la capitale de l'Arkansas: Larry Davis (alors bassiste), Sammy Lawhorn, Sunny Blair, Ernest Lane... Il joue aussi souvent à Saint Louis, notamment en 1954-55 au Blue Flame Club où il rencontre Ike Turner et ses Kings of Rhythm. Quand Fenton retourne à Little Rock, il est suivi de quelques musiciens des Kings of Rhythm, tel le saxophoniste-ténor Little Cameron avec lequel il enregistrera.
           
Remarqué par Lester Bihari, Fenton enregistre enfin en 1957 pour Meteor Tennessee woman, ce qui l'amène à signer pour le label de Don Robey, Duke qui saura lui faire graver une série de séances remarquables dans ses studios de Houston: As the years go passing by (une composition originale de Peppermint Harris cédée à Robey qui deviendra le standard que l'on sait), une version supérieure de Tennessee woman, Mississippi steamboat ou l'instrumental The Freeze (qui influencera tant Albert Collins). Fenton accompagne aussi plusieurs chanteurs comme Larry Davis sur le classique Texas flood.
            Mais dans le Sud, Robinson ne réussit pas à vivre, comme il le souhaite tant, de sa musique, et doit travailler en usine le jour (notamment chez Coca Cola). Il gagne donc Chicago. Presque immédiatement, la réputation de ses disques Duke, son jeu de guitare jazzy, fluide, virtuose, expressif, son chant poignant qui ajoute au phrasé distingué des blues shouters la ferveur du Gospel lui permet d'assembler un groupe (Bobby King, Jack Myers, Earl Robinson) qui devient l'orchestre-maison du club Theresa's. Il enregistre pour plusieurs petits labels de Chicago (USA, Palos). En 1967, le magnifique Somebody loan me a dime commence à flirter avec les Hit Parades locaux mais l'hiver précoce et très dur paralyse la ville durant plusieurs semaines, empêchant l'ascension du titre.
           
Cependant, Somebody n'est pas perdu pour tout le monde, notamment pas pour le chanteur de rock Boz Scaggs qui l'enregistre en 1969 sur Atlantic, s'en approprie la composition et en fait un énorme succès commercial! Malgré ses efforts, Fenton - qui n'a guère les moyens financiers de lutter - ne récupérera jamais les droits qu'il aurait dû percevoir. Robinson continue donc une petite carrière, grave encore quelques 45 t pour le minuscule label Giant puis, dans la foulée du succès de Boz Scaggs, un album entier à Nashville sous l'égide de John Richbourn qui ne trouve rien de mieux que de le priver de sa guitare et l'entourer d'un des groupes de rock les plus rigides du moment.
            Fenton tourne ensuite avec Charlie Musselwhite durant quelques années. Jusqu'à ce que Bruce Iglauer lui permette enfin en 1974 d'enregistrer le merveilleux Somebody loan me a dime (Alligator). Magnifiquement produit, entouré de grands musiciens de blues, Fenton est au sommet de son art et cet album est certainement un des grands chefs d'œuvre indispensables du Chicago blues de cette période. Plusieurs titres de cette sublime séance sont encore inédits et on peut espérer que Alligator va en sortir un jour l'intégrale?
            Avec un tel disque et un label comme Alligator, l'avenir de Fenton semblait enfin prometteur. Malheureusement, impliqué dans un accident de voiture mortel, Robinson est condamné à la prison et incarcéré en 1975. A sa sortie, il enregistre un nouveau très bon album pour Alligator I hear some blues downstairs. Mais le caractère ombrageux et la personnalité de Fenton le brouillent avec beaucoup de monde. Il retourne vivre à Little Rock, cette fois pour trouver une scène du blues agonisante, gagne Springfield (Ill) où il obtient une résidence d'artiste dans un college... Il ne joue plus en public que sporadiquement, disparaît pratiquement de la scène américaine. Heureusement, sa réputation en Europe et au Japon lui permettent d'y effectuer des tournées et d'enregistrer encore sporadiquement quelques albums pour le label néerlandais Black Magic (Blues in progress/ Nighflight; Special road).
            C'est hélas un homme amer, désabusé, sûr de ses talents dont il vivote à peine qui meurt d'une attaque le 30 novembre 1997 à Rockford dans l'Illinois.
            Sa très belle œuvre enregistrée, elle, n'a cessé de grandir avec le temps.
            Si tous ses albums sont relativement disponibles en CD, ses premiers 45t sont difficiles à trouver. Nous les avons donc rassemblés ici.
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT
Photo © Emmanuel Choisnel


Although rarely credited as a major figure of the Chicago blues, Fenton Robinson has nevertheless a strong and well deserved reputation as a wonderful smooth singer and subtle and expressive guitarist among blues buffs all over the world.
Born September 23, 1935 in Minter City (Ms), the young Fenton had a very hard childhood, having to quit school at an early age to help his farming mother. A neighbor guitarist, Sammy Hampton, opened up his mind to music, jazz and blues. It was anyway not before Fenton had moved to Memphis in the early 1950's that he was confronted to "real" musicians, live or on records, T-Bone Walker, Oscar Moore, the sound of the big bands, the blues shouters like Joe Williams (from Count Basie's) and Eddie Vinson who, all of them, would stay as his main musical influences. All his life Fenton would want to be a professionnal, classy musician, taking lessons, learning how to read and write music and arrangements. With a friend, the guitarist Charles McGowan, Fenton embarked himself on a musical career with great expectations and ambitions. Relocated in Little Rock (Arkansas) in 1953, Fenton knew and played with all the local musicians (Larry Davis, Sammy Lawhorn, Sunny Blair), hosted a local radio programme and had gigs all around Little Rock up to Saint Louis where he knew and played with Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm. Sax-tenor Little Cameron, one of Ike's alumni, even went into Fenton's band whose whom he would record a handful of sides.
            At last, Fenton recorded in 1957, first for Lester Bihari's Meteor label (Tennessee woman), then for Don Robey's Duke label. Well produced, with gound sound and arrangements, the tracks that Fenton waxed for Duke in 1959-60 stand up very well the tests of time. As the years go passing by (an original composition by Peppermint Harris who sold it to Robey), a new superior version of Tennessee woman, Mississippi steamboat or The freeze (which would greatly influence Albert Collins) are some of the best Duke titles.
           
But despite all that buzz, Fenton had still to work on a day-job (in a Coca Cola plant) for bread and butter. Once again, with great hopes, he went to try his luck in Chicago where he would take more music lessons with Reggie Boyd.
            Quickly, his mellow, jazzy, floating and inventive guitar playing as well as his classy singing (plus the reputation of his Duke 45's) earned him a secure job as leader of the house band (with Bobby King, Jack Myers...) at Theresa's. He also managed to record for several small Chicago labels: USA, Giant, Palos... In 1967, his stunning composition Somebody loan me a dime, for Palos, started to climb the local charts but was unfortunately cut off by an early and severe Chicago winter which froze litteraly all activities in the Windy city.
            Anyway, rising rock star Boz Scaggs heard the song, copyrighted the tune and recorded it for his Atlantic album in 1969, a national smash it that should have earned some needed money to Fenton but instead left him embittered and poorer, the expanses of lawyers and such going nowhere!
            Trying to emulate Boz's music, Nashville producer John Richbourn signed Fenton and made him recording a poor rock-oriented album in which Fenton didn't even had the right to play his guitar! Fenton went for a while on the road with Charlie Musselwhite.
            At last in 1974, Fenton recorded a major album under the wise production of Bruce Iglauer. Somebody loan me a dime (Alligator) is certainly a masterpiece of the "modern" Chicago blues idiom in which Fenton appears at the peak of his considerable talents. Several tracks from this legendary sessions are still unissued. Maybe one day, Bruce and Alligator would give us the "complete" recording session?
            With such an album and a dedicated producer like Iglauer, the future of Fenton Robinson seemed at last promising. But bad luck struck him once again. Involved in a fatal car accident, Fenton had to go to jail for several months in 1975.
            He recorded another good album for Alligator albeit less stunning than the previous one (I hear some blues downstairs) but seemed not to be able to cash on anything. His brood temper, his versatility discouraged many to take care of his career. Fenton quit Chicago to return to Little Rock, just to find a dying blues scene, relocated to Springfield, Illinois, where he chiefly lived upon musical lectures in schools and even day jobs. He dropped off the US blues scene almost completely but, fortunately, his great reputation in Japan and Europe gave him the opportunty to tour overseas and record a handful of (very good) albums for the Dutch Black Magic label.
            But this is a very bitter, suspicious, disillusionned man, still aware of his considerable musical talents largely unrecognized outside some limited circles, that died after an attack on november 30, 1997.
            His mostly first rate recorded legacy speaks for his greatness.
            If his albums are all still available on CDs, his first sides on 45's are quite hard to obtain. I have thus collected his complete early works on those .mp3 comp.                                                                     Gérard HERZHAFT



FENTON ROBINSON
Complete Early Recordings
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; Charles Mc Gowan, g; pno; Robert Williams, t-sax; Larry Davis, bs; J.W. Hughes, dms. Memphis, Tn. mars 1957
01. Tennessee woman
02. Crying out loud
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; David Dean, t-sax; James Booker, pno; Larry Davis, bs; Nat Kendricks, dms. Houston, Tx. 17-26 mai 1958
03. Crazy crazy lovin'
04. Mississippi steamboat
05. The freeze
06. Double freeze (vcl: Peppermint Harris)
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; James Booker, pno; Texas Johnny Brown, g; David Dean, t-sax; Hamp Simmons, bs; Nat Kendricks, dms. Houston, tx. 1959
07. As the years go passing by
08. Tennessee woman
09. You've got to pass this way again
10. Schoolboy
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; Hop Wilson, st-g; Elmore Nixon, pno; Pete Douglas, bs; Ivory Lee Semien, dms. Houston, Tx. 27 octobre 1960
11. You don't move me anymore
12. My woman done quit me
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; Detroit Jr, pno; Burgess Gardner, t-sax; Eddie Silvers, a-sax; Bob Anderson, bs; Billy Davenport, dms. Chicago, Ill. 1966
13. Say you're leaving
14. Directly from my heart
15. You're cracking me up
16. I put my baby in high society
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; Kenneth Sands, tpt; Bobby Forte, t-sax; Alberto Gianquinto, pno; Leo Lauchie, bs; Sonny Freeman, dms. Chicago, Ill. mai 1967
17. I believe
18. Somebody loan me a dime
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; tpt; Little Cameron, t-sax; Wayne Bennett, g; pno; James Green, bs; dms. Chicago, Ill. janvier 1968
19. Farmer's son
20. Let me rock you to sleep
21. Keep on grooving me baby
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; horns; John Logan, og; Mighty Joe Young, g; James Green, bs; Bill Warren, dms. Chicago, lll. 1969
22. 7/11 blues
23. There goes my baby
24. Fen-ton a soul
Fenton Robinson, vcl; Ed Kollis, hca; Troy Seals, g; Mac Gayden, g; Bob Wilson, kbds; Tim Drummond, bs; Karl Himmell, dms. Nashville, Tn. Juin 1970
25. The Getaway
26. Somebody loan me a dime
27. The sky is crying
28. Stormy monday
29. Smokestack lightning
30. Moanin' for my baby
31. Don't start me to talking
32. Little red rooster
33. Sideman
34. Let me come back home
35. Leave you in the arms of another
36. I'm not through loving you
37. Give you some air
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; horns; Sandy Kaye, kbds; Mark Tidwell, g; Neal Dover, bs; Tarp Tarrant, dms. Muscle Shoals, Al. 1971
38. She's a wiggler
39. Little turch
40. Mellow fellow
41. I wanna ooh
42. Laughing and crying blues
43. I fell in love one time
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; Little Mack Simmons, hca; Mighty Joe Young, g; James Green, bs; Ashward Gates, dms. Chicago, Ill. 1973
44. Find a way
45. Cryin' the blues
Fenton Robinson, vcl/g; Mighty Joe Young, g; John Logan, og; pno; horns; James Green, bs; Bill Warren, dms. Chicago, Ill. janvier 1974
46. Blue monday blues
47. One room country shack
48. Nothing but a fool

lundi 12 août 2019

IONA WADE/ Complete Recordings




IONA WADE: Complete Recordings


           
Iona Wade is certainly not a well known female blues singer. Like many of her peers from the immediate post war era she certainly was more interested to play and sing in shows, to be the featured singer of jazz-R&B bands which enjoyed constant touring and well paid venues than to record under her own name and try the near impossible task for a woman at that time to handle bands of her own. Although she had anyway waxed a nice output of recordings as Iona Wade, Iona Harlin or as the singer of great R&B/jazz bands like those of Sherman Williams, Bill Gaither, Joe Lutcher, Eric Von Schlitz or James Moody.
            Very few is known about her life and whereabouts and there are only one or two mentions of her in blues and jazz magazines. According to Blues/ A regional experience (by Eric Le Blanc and Bob Eagle), she was born in march 1918 in Indianapolis from James Wade and Allie Ruth Kennedy. She started a singing career with pianist and bandleader Isaac "Snookum" Russell around 1942. But her first records were made as the featured vocalist of Sherman Williams' band. Sherman, a saxophonist and bandleader from Houston has a fairly large discography recorded in Nashville, Houston and Los Angeles in which Iona delivers silky and smooth vocals on a good number of blues and ballads. The newspapers of the time are praising her vocal talents, her stage control and her sex-appeal:
            " With Sherman Williams will go of course the lovely and sweet singer Iona Wade who has been the rage at the Peacock Club for over five months" (Sid Thompson in "The Houston Informer", February 1947)
            Iona and Sherman are constantly playing in and around Houston's best clubs, blacks or whites (!) during the late 1940's. With Sherman Williams, Iona toured nationally back to back with Johnny Moore's Three Blazes in 1947 and opened for blues shouter and hit maker Wynonie Harris.
            She seemed to have left Williams somewhere during the early 1949 and we found her again in the studios in Los Angeles, this time fronting Bill Gaither's Madcaps band for a very good recording session. The next year, she is back in Houston (under the name Iona Harlin?), waxing some rare 45s with saxophonist Eric Von Schlitz's Big Six band who feature ace pianist Jay Mc Shann. After that, her appearances are getting scarce apart a title in Los Angeles with Joe Lutcher and an odd appearance with saxophonist James Moody's band in 1954.
           
She returns in the studio for a last 45 in 1962, this time with saxophonist and bandleader Wilbert Jiggs Hemsley for the small independent Vistone label located in San Pedro, California and owned by former Sam Phillips' employee Pete Korelich. Iona then disappears completely and we don't know what she became and when or where she probably died.
            We have tried to gather almost all Iona's recordings but three titles from the super rare Eric Von Schlitz's sessions are still missing. A .mp3 copy would be greatly appreciated.
            A lot of thanks to those who made possible this article and compilation: bluesjumpers33, Jose Yrrabera, and the websites Dead Wax and particularly Wired for Sound, always on top for providing infos from old Texas' recordings.


                                              Gérard HERZHAFT


Iona Wade, vcl; Sherman Williams, a-sax; Charles Gillum, tpt; William Jones, t-sax; Skippy Brooks, pno; James Brown, bs; Alvin Woods, dms. Nashville, Tn. may 1947
01. Keep your man at home
02. Take a ride
Iona Wade, vcl; Sherman Williams, a-sax; Charles Gillum, tpt; Williams Jones, t-sax; Skippy Brooks, pno; William Roberts, bs; Diz Small, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. december 1948
03. So easy
04. It's you in my heart
05. Hello
06. Reminiscence with the blues
Iona Wade, vcl; Sherman Williams, a-sax; Charles Gillum, tpt; Williams Jones, t-sax; Skippy Brooks, pno; William Roberts, bs; Diz Small, dms. Houston, Tx. january 1949
07. Why don't you tell me so?
08. No one in my heart
Iona Wade, vcl; Bill Gaither, t-sax; His Madcaps, band. Los Angeles, Ca. 16 august 1949
09. Lonesome baby blues
10. That's the corkescrew
11. Bouncing with Bill
Iona Wade, vcl; Jay Mc Shann, pno; Eric Von Schlitz, t-sax; His Big Six, band. Houston, Tx. april 1950
12. Come on in, drink some gin
13. Take my number baby
Missin' you
Iona Wade, vcl; Jay Mc Shann, pno; Eric Von Schlitz, t-sax; His Big Six, band. Houston, Tx. mai 1950
Gonna make a change
Keep your man at home
Iona Wade, vcl;  Joe Lutcher, a-sax; band. Huntington Park, Ca. 1952
14. Why not tell me now
Iona Wade, vcl; James Moody, a-sax/t-sax; Dave Burns, tpt; William Shepherd, tb; Pee Wee Moore, b-sax; Jimmy Boyd, pno; John Latham, bs; Joe Harris, dms. Hackensack, Ca. 12 april 1954
15. That man o'mine
16. Over the rainbow
17. Jack Raggs
18. Mambo with Moody
Iona Wade, vcl; Wilbert Jiggs Hemsley, t-sax; His Orchestra, band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1962
19. I love you baby
20. No more dogging


dimanche 11 août 2019

IRENE SCRUGGS: The voice of the blues

IRENE SCRUGGS: The Voice of the Blues

           
Irene Scruggs est une des meilleures et des plus méconnues des premières chanteuses de blues, gravant plusieurs chefs d'œuvre dont bien sûr le remarquable The voice of the blues.
            Irene naît Nolan(d) (ou peut-être Smith) à Lamont (Ms) dans le comté de Bolivar le 7 décembre 1901 et on ne connaît pas grand chose de son enfance. La pianiste Mary Lou Williams l'a signalée installée à Saint Louis et considérée comme une chanteuse de Vaudeville d'une renommée certaine vers 1919-20. Irene sera d'ailleurs embauchée par des tournées de Vaudeville dans lesquelles elle chante et danse et engrange une forte réputation avec des numéros et des chansons à connotation sexuelle, très osées pour l'époque.
            Cependant, contrairement à la plupart de ses collègues du Vaudeville, les racines rurales de son chant et de sa musique sont très apparentes dès ses premiers enregistrements réalisés à New York en compagnie du pianiste Clarence Williams (qui l'a certainement découverte dans le circuit du Vaudeville et l'a emmenée dans les studios) le 30 avril et 1er mai 1924.
            Il lui faut attendre ensuite le 23 avril 1926 pour enregistrer accompagnée de King Oliver et son orchestre deux de ses compositions qui ont apparemment connu un succès commercial puisqu'elle les réenregistre l'année suivante dans un contexte orchestral très différent. Irene revient alors de façon continue dans les studios les années suivantes, enregistrant sous son nom mais aussi divers pseudonymes (Chocolate Brown, Dixie Nolan) et en compagnie des meilleurs musiciens de blues et de jazz de cette époque: Blind Blake (avec lequel elle se produit sur scène, là aussi en duo "osé"), Lonnie Johnson, Johnny Hodges...
            En août 1930, Irene enregistre sa plus belle séance à Richmond (Indiana) pour le label Gennett. Ces morceaux, d'inspiration très nettement rurale, dégagent une puissance et un feeling dus au chant émouvant et profond de Irene Scruggs ainsi qu'à son guitariste qui utilise avec merveille le slide et qui pourrait être selon certaines sources James
"Kokomo" Arnold.
            Irene tourne et enregistre ensuite avec le pianiste Little Brother Montgomery mais elle abandonne progressivement la scène et la musique pour des raisons inconnues. Et à la fin des années 1930, elle quitte les Etats Unis en compagnie de sa fille Baby Leazar (qui se produisait avec sa mère sur scène dès l'âge de neuf ans) pour s'installer à Paris puis à Londres. Après la guerre, elle participe à plusieurs émissions radiophoniques pour la BBC mais se consacre surtout à manager sa fille, la danseuse Baby Scruggs qui connaît un énorme succès dans les années 1950 avec des spectacles "exotiques" et
sexy.
            Irene Scruggs décède à Trèves en Allemagne le 20 juillet 1981 et son œuvre enregistrée (qui pour elle était sans doute secondaire par rapport à ses performances sur scène) mérite amplement une réévaluation.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT


           
Irene Scruggs is one of the best and unfortunately not very well known among the so-called Female Blues Singers from the 1920's. And she has a much more down home and rural feel that most of her colleagues who came (like her) from the Vaudeville Theatres. She has recorded several deep blues masterpieces like the all-time classic The Voice of the Blues.
            Irene was born probably Nolan(d) (or maybe Smith) in Lamont (Ms), Bolivar County on 7 December 1901. One knows nothing of her childhood. She is first mentioned by jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams as a renowned young singer and dancer at the Saint Louis Vaudeville theatres around 1919-20. Irene will effectively tour the Vaudeville circuit and this is probably where she was noticed by pianist and producer Clarence Williams who gave her her first studio experience on 30 April/ 1st May 1924.
            She has to wait two years to record again (April 1926) this time with two of her own penned blues and backed by no other that King Oliver and his band! She certainly enjoys some commercial success with this record for she records again the two same titles but this time accompanied only by guitar (the great Lonnie Johnson) and piano in a much more mainstream blues feel.
            After that, she will record extensively the following years under her name as well as several nicknames for contractual reasons (Chocolate Brown, Dixie Nolan) backed by some of the best blues musicians of the decade, particularly Blind Blake with whom she toured, sharing the stage as a successful risqué duo!
            And in August 1930 she records her greatest session at Richmond's Indiana studios for the Gennett label. This time the feeling is particularly down home with a powerful moving vocal by Irene and the sublime guitar part (with slide) probably (as some sources declare) played by James "Kokomo" Arnold.
            Irene records a last session with pianist Little Brother Montgomery and she tours the USA with him the following years, reportedly stealing the show with her sexy risqué act. But she progressively gives up music and finally leaves the United States with his young daughter Baby Leazar Scruggs (who danced on stage with her mother since she was nine years old) for Europe, settling in Paris then London. After the war, Irene Scruggs took part of several radio broadcastings, particularly for the BBC but mostly managed her daughter career. Baby Scruggs enjoys an enormous success as a go-go exotic dancer during the 1950's all over Europe.
            Irene Scruggs dies in Trier (Germany) on 20 July 1981 and her recording works (that was for her very secondary to her stage career) certainly deserves a strong revaluation.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

Irene Scruggs, vcl; Clarence Williams, pno. New York City, 30 April-1 May 1924
01. Everybody's blues
02. Why he left me I don't know
03. Cruel Papa but a good man to have around
04. My daddy's calling me
Irene Scruggs, vcl; King Oliver, crt; Kid Ory, tb; Albert Nicholas, clt/s-sax; Luis Russell, pno; Bud Scott, bjo; Paul Barbarin, dms. Chicago, Ill. 23 April 1926
05. Home town blues
06. Sorrow Valley blues n°1
Irene Scruggs, vcl; Lonnie Johnson, g; DeLoise Searcy, pno. Saint Louis, Mo. 2 May 1927
07. Lonesome Valley blues
08. Sorrow Valley blues n°2
Irene Scruggs, vcl; Johnny Hodges, pno/vcls; g; g. Memphis, Tn. 28 september 1929
09. Worried love I & II
Irene Scruggs, vcl; Blind Blake, g/vcls. Grafton, Wisc. 26-28 May 1930
10. Stingaree man blues
11. Itching heel
12. You've got what I want
13. Cherry Hill blues
14. Married man blues
Irene Scruggs, vcl; prob. James "Kokomo" Arnold, g; Norman Ebron, pno. Richmond, In. 30 August 1930
15. The voice of the blues
16. You've got what I want
17. If you want to give me some
18. My back to the wall
19. Borrowed love n°1
Irene Scruggs, vcl; Little Brother Montgomery, pno. Grafton, Wisc. September 1930
20. Good grinding
21. Borrowed love n°2
22. Must get mine in front
23. Back to the wall

This is a repost from public demands with new links.

dimanche 4 août 2019

GEORGE SMITH/ The Early Years



GEORGE SMITH/ Creator of the West Coast Harmonica

           
Bien que beaucoup moins célèbre que Little Walter ou Big Walter Horton, George Allen Smith n'en demeure pas moins une des grandes icônes de l'harmonica blues amplifié.
            Né le 22 avril 1924 à Helena dans l'Arkansas mais élevé dans le Nord par sa mère, une harmoniciste chromatique férue des orchestres d'harmonicas à la Borrah Menovitch et de Larry Adler, George Smith a d'abord été influencé par leurs disques et a commencé à interpréter toutes sortes d'airs pop et jazz avant de rencontrer les harmonicistes de blues une fois qu'il ait gagné Kansas City en 1942. Il y travaille dans les abattoirs de la ville et se produit le soir dans les nombreux clubs de la ville, souvent au sein d'orchestres de jazz, la musique dominante de la grande cité du MidWest. C'est à ce moment-là (vers 1945) et pour se faire entendre au milieu des cuivres qu'il met en place la technique de l'amplification électrique de l'harmonica dont il est indubitablement une des pionniers. George transporte cette expérience du jazz lorsqu'il s'installe à Chicago en 1949, confronte ses idées avec celles des harmonicistes de la ville, alors très marqués par John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson. Smith s'en distingue d'emblée, utilise beaucoup les octaves sur la troisième position même quand il joue du diatonique. Il fait partie de plusieurs orchestres de Chicago, remporte des "batailles" d'harmonicas avec ses pairs Little Walter et Junior Wells mais sans réussir à obtenir davantage que l'estime des musiciens.
            Ce n'est que lors d'une visite à Kansas City en 1955 que George Smith enregistre enfin pour les frères Bihari une série de 45t dans lesquels il démontre toute l'étendue de ses talents d'harmoniciste révolutionnaire. Blues in the dark, Telephone blues, Blues stay away, Hey Mr Porter sont aujourd'hui des classiques de l'harmonica blues. Mais le succès commercial n'est alors pas au rendez-vous et il enregistre surtout pour de tout petits labels mal distribués et, pour des raisons contractuelles, sous divers pseudonymes  - Little Walter Jr, Harmonica King, George Allen -qui ne facilitent pas sa notoriété. Ce n'est que lorsque Muddy Waters l'embauche dans son orchestre en 1968-69 que George Smith apparaît sur les grandes scènes américaines et européennes. Il n'enregistre malheureusement pas avec son patron mais apparaît derrière Otis Spann et Sunnyland Slim. Il grave aussi deux albums en vedette (Tribute to Little Walter et surtout Of the blues) qui provoquent un choc auprès des innombrables apprentis harmonicistes du blues revival, notamment grâce à la présence sur ces disques d'étincelants instrumentaux comme Ode to Billy Joe, Juicy Lucy ou Hawaiian Eye.
           
Il quitte Muddy, se fixe définitivement à Los Angeles, joue dans l'orchestre de la chanteuse Big Mama Thornton, ce qui lui vaut une nouvelle notoriété et la possibilité d'enregistrer des séances remarquables avec elle mais aussi derrière Big Joe Turner ou Jesse Thomas. Soudain entouré d'une kyrielle de jeunes harmonicistes californiens (William Clarke, Mark Hummel, Gary Smith, Paul De Lay, Kim Wilson, Rick Estrin...), il devient leur mentor, leur principale source d'inspiration et le fondateur involontaire d'un style d'harmonica swinguant et jazzy qui est aujourd'hui fort répandu et imité dans le monde entier. C'est un de ses élèves, Rod Piazza, qui le convainc en 1970 de rejoindre son groupe Bacon Fat, composé alors de très jeunes musiciens blancs. Smith leur apporte son expérience, son feeling, son sens du blues et une authenticité qui transparaissent dans les enregistrements effectués alors. Il décède le 2 octobre 1983 à Los Angeles Californie)
            L'œuvre de George Smith n'a cessé de grandir avec le temps et d'inspirer déjà deux générations d'harmonicistes!
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

           
Although less well known than Little or Big Walters, George Allen Smith is anyway one of the great innovators of the post-war harmonica blues.
            Born on April, 22nd 1924 in Helena, Arkansas but raised in the North by his mother who played chromatic harmonica under the influence of people like Larry Adler and Borrah Menovitch, George started to practise himself the instrument at an early age, playing pop and jazz tunes. It is only in 1942 when he went to work on a slaughterhouse in Kansas City that George met some blues harp players. Soon, Smith played for tips on the streets and in the clubs with some local popular big bands. To be heard above the honking horns of those orchestras George amplified his harmonica, certainly one of the first to try to play this way.
            This is those broad experiences that he brought with him when he relocated in Chicago in 1949, bringing a very different way to play the harmonica blues (blowing often octaves on the so called third position) in a city then mostly under the huge influence of John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson.
            But he has to wait 1955 and a return visit to Kansas City to at last be able to record a session for the Biharis, waxing some revolutionaries tracks like Blues in the dark or Telephone blues. But the success eludes him and during the subsequent years he has to record for some small outfits under nicknames (Little Walter Jr, Harmonica King, George Allen) that certainly don't make easier for him to be known as the major harmonicist he really is.
            In 1968, he is hired by Muddy Waters and will play with the maestro for a short year on festivals and concert halls, being at last discovered by blues fans all over the world and recording his two first LPs for Capitol and Bluesway that features some stunning instrumentals.
            After a session behind Sunnyland Slim in Los Angeles, George is hired by Big Mama Thornton and decides to stay in this city, making new recordings under his name for local labels like Sotoplay and behind numerous blues (and sometimes jazz) players.
            In Southern California he becomes friend with Rod Piazza who is certainly his most faithful pupil and with whom he plays, records and tours the US and Europe in the Bacon Fat blues band. At that time, George becomes the leading inspiration for a whole generation of West Coast harp players like William Clarke, Mark Hummel, Gary Smith, Paul De Lay and such who take his jazzy and swinging way to play the harmonica. He is unintentionally but undoubtedly the creator of the West Coast harmonica style.
            George dies on October, 2nd, 1983 in Los Angeles and his recordings have never stopped to be more and more appreciated, becoming all-time classics and inspiring already two generations of harp players.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT



GEORGE SMITH
The Complete Studio Recordings
Volume 1
George Smith, vcl/hca; band. Kansas City, Ka. août 1955
01. Blues in the dark
02. Telephone blues
03. Blues stay away
04. Oopin’ doopin’ doopin’ I & II
05. Rocking I & II
06. Early one monday morning
07. Early one morning
George Smith, hca; Champion Jack Dupree, pno; Barney Richmond, bs; Alfred Dreares, dms. Cincinnatti, Oh. 8 novembre 1955
08. Sharp harp
George Smith, vcl/hca; Maxwell Davis, t-sax; band. Los Angeles, Ca. mars-avril 1956
09. Love life
10. Cross eyed Suzie Lee
11. California blues
12. Goin’ to California
13. Down in New Orleans
14. Hey Mr Porter
15. You don’t love me
16. I found my baby
17. Have myself a ball
George Smith, vcl/hca; band. Los Angeles, Ca. novembre 1956
18. Miss O’Mailey’s rally
19. I don’t know
20. All last night
21. Hot Rolls

GEORGE SMITH
The Complete Studio Recordings
Volume 2
George Smith, vcl/hca; band. Los Angeles, Ca. janvier-février 1957
22. West Helena blues
23. As long as I live
24. Nobody knows
George Smith, vcl/hca; J.D. Nicholson, pno/og; Jimmy Nolen, g; Curtis Tillman, bs; Chuck Thomas, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 1960
25. I want a woman
26. Times won’t be hard always
27. Tight dress
28. Loose screws
29. Until you come home
George Smith, vcl/hca; tpt; saxes; Ernest Lane, pno; Jimmy Nolen, g; Curtis Tillman, bs; Chuck Thomae, dms; vcl group. Los Angeles, Ca. 1961
30. I must be crazy
31. Sometimes you win when you lose
32. Come on home
33. You can’t undo what’s been done
34. Rope that twist
George Smith, vcl/hca; Marshall Hooks, g; Phillip Walker, g; Curtis Tillman, bs; Chuck Thomas, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 1964
35. Brown mule
36. Good things
George Smith, vcl/hca; Marshall Hooks, g; Jimmy Nolen, g; bs; dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 1966
37. Summertime
38. The Avalon boogaloo
George Smith, vcl/hca; Muddy Waters, g; Sammy Lawhorn, g; Otis Spann, pno/og; Luther Johnson, bs; Francis Clay, dms. New York City, 25 novembre 1966
39. Chicago blues band
40. Look out Victoria
41. Old ugly man like me
George Smith, vcl/hca; Marshall Hooks, g; Jimmy Nolen, g; bs; dms. Los Angeles, Ca. février 1968
42. Yes baby
43. Blowin’ the blues
44. Trap meat