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mardi 31 juillet 2018



            Ce 6ème volume de notre série sur le Texas blues est consacré à deux musiciens fort différents, le premier représentant bien ce R&B Texan qui s'est développé durant les années de guerre et qui a été extrêmement populaire auprès des Noirs durant une bonne décennie; le deuxième le down home blues texan qui, lui, venu des pionniers du genre, perdurera longtemps dans les années 1960.

            Joe Fritz, surnommé "Papoose", sans doute pour des origines indiennes, est né à Houston le 13 novembre 1924 et a fait une carrière de saxophoniste alto et tenor et de chanteur au sein de son propre orchestre, très typique du R&B texan. On ne connaît que peu sa vie, bien qu'il ait accompagné en tournée et en studio des artistes de renom comme Junior Parker, Albert Collins ou
Huey Smith! Fritz a substantiellement enregistré sous son nom pour Modern, Sittin' In With, Peacock et pour Jet Stream jusqu'à la fin des années 60. A notre connaissance, il n'a jamais été interviewé et on connaît le lieu et la date de son décès (12 juin 1983 à Houston) par le fait qu'il était un vétéran de la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale! Quoi qu'il en soit, nous proposons ici presque toute son œuvre, quelques titres manquants encore malgré nos efforts.

            D.C. Bender (en fait Dick C. Bendy) est au contraire très profondément ancré dans le blues profond du Texas qui s'est développé dans les années 1920-30. Né à Urbana le 19 juin 1924 dans une famille de métayers, D.C. apprend la guitare avec un voisin bluesman Hardy Gibson et très jeune gagne sa vie en chantant dans les juke joints du Texas et de Louisiane ou dans les rues de Houston, rencontrant et partageant la scène avec Luther Stoneham, Smokey Hogg, Wright Holmes et surtout son cousin Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins. C'est Hopkins qui le présente au producteur Bill Quinn en 1949, ce qui lui permet d'enregistrer deux titres seul à la guitare sous le surnom de D.C. Washington (!). Les années suivantes, Bender s'associe avec un autre bluesman local Big Son Tillis. Le duo part tenter sa chance à Los Angeles où ils enregistrent une superbe séance pour le label Elko de J.R. Fullbright en 1953. De retour à Houston, D.C. Bender rejoint le groupe du batteur Ivory Lee Semien (qui comprend le guitariste Big H. Williams) avec lequel il grave une dernière séance en 1967. Il décède le 11 août 1982 à Houston.
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT

            This 6th opus of our Texas blues series brings two artists representing two very different styles of Texas blues.
            Joe Fritz, nicknamed "Papoose" probably for some Native American origins (?) was born in Houston 13th November 1924 and made quite a long career playing the saxophone and sometimes singing in front of his own band, very typical of the then very popular Texas R&B. His whereabouts and life are little known although he had followed on the road and in studios big Texas blues names like Junior Parker, Huey Smith and Albert Collins. Fritz has also recorded more than twenty tracks under his own name for Modern, Sittin' In With, Peacock or Jet Stream from 1950 to the late 1960's. To my knowledge, he unfortunately has never been interviewed and we know the place and the date of his death (12 June 1983 in Houston) thanks to him being a WWII veteran! Whatever, we have tried to gather all his recordings but, despite our efforts, a few are still missing.
On the other hand, D.C. Bender (in fact Dick C. Bendy) is deeply rooted in the down home Texas blues tradition harking back to the 1920's and Blind Lemon, Texas Alexander or Little Hat Jones. Born at Urbana 19th June 1924 from a sharecropping family, D.C. learned guitar thanks to a neighbor bluesman Hardy Gibson. At a very young age, he left the farm and made a living playing in the Texas/Louisiana juke joints or in the streets of cities like Houston, meeting and playing with other local bluesmen like Luther Stoneham, Smokey Hogg, Wright Holmes or, chiefly, with his cousin Sam Lightnin' Hopkins. This is Hopkins who brought D.C. to producer Bill Quinn who recorded him as a solo artist in 1949 under the moniker of D.C. Washington! The following years, Bender teamed with another deep local bluesman Big Son Tillis and the two tried their luck as far as Los Angeles where they recorded a first rate session for J.R. Fullbright's Elko label in 1953. Unfortunately, those records went nowhere and D.C. came back to Houston, joining drummer Ivory Lee Semien's band with whom he waxed a last session in 1967. D.C. Bender died in Houston 11th August 1982.
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT

Volume 6
JOE "PAPOOSE" FRITZ, vcl/a-sax; t-sax; band. Houston, Tx. March 1950
01. Wrong doing woman
02. If I be lucky
03. Better wake up baby
04. Real fine girl
Joe "Papoose" Fritz, vcl/a-sax; Willie Johnson, pno; Goree Carter, g; Don Cooks, bs; Ben Turner, dms. Houston, Tx. September 1950
05. Please get me off your mind
06. I love you my darling
07. I'm so sorry
08. Bad bad women blues
09. I've tried not to love you
10. Lady Bear boogie
Cool cool baby blues
I do love you
Joe "Papoose" Fritz, vcl/a-sax; Goree Carter, g; Connie Mc Booker, pno; Bill Harvey, t-sax; band. Houston, Tx. December 1950
11. Please my darling
12. They were right
Joe "Papoose" Fritz, vcl/a-sax; Bill Harvey, t-sax; Goree Carter, g; band. Houston, Tx. January 1951
13. Make her see things my way
Joe "Papoose" Fritz, vcl/a-sax; band. Houston, Tx. February 1951
14. Summer's coming on
15. I'm not suspicious but
If I didn't love you so
In misery
Joe "Papoose" Fritz, vcl/a-sax; Geno Washington, pno; James Von Streeter, t-sax; Devonia Williams, pno; Pete Lewis, g; Albert Winston, bs; Leard Bell, dms. Houston, Tx. October 1953
16. Honey honey
17. The woman I love
Joe "Papoose" Fritz, vcl/a-sax; band. Houston, Tx. 1966
18. Good doctor, sweet soul
19. Aww she's a stepper
20. I'm a stepper
D.C. BENDER, vcl/g. Houston, Tx. 10 June 1949
21. Rebop boogie
22. Happy home blues
D.C. Bender, vcl/g; Big Son Tillis, g. Los Angeles, Ca. 1953
My baby wrote me a letter
23. I'm going upstairs
24. Cold blues
D.C. Bender, vcl/g; Earl Gilliam, og; Big H. Williams, g; Ivory Lee Semien, dms. Houston, Tx. June 1967
25. Boogie Children
26. Woke up this morning
D.C. Bender, g; Big Houston Williams, bs; Ivory Lee Semien, dms. Houston, Tx. 16 juillet 1967
27. D.C.'s freeze up

mercredi 18 juillet 2018



Although not often credited as a big name of the postwar Chicago blues, John Brim has been instrumental in creating the genre and most of his recordings may be considered as classics, notably the wonderful Rattlesnake and Tough times.
Born in Hopkinsville (Kentucky) on April, 10th 1922, John has been influenced by local bluesmen like guitarist Homer Wilson and harmonica player Phineas Cox. In 1941, he goes for work to Indianapolis, a town whose blues is still strongly affected by the music of the famous duo Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell. John quickly takes part of the local blues scene, meets Scrapper Blackwell, Jesse Eldridge, the great singer Harmon Ray and Pete Franklin whose whom he forms a duo à la Carr/Blackwell!
            In 1945, Brim leaves Indianapolis for Chicago, finds a good job in a laundry and plays in the Chicago clubs with Doctor Clayton, Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, all of whom leaving their marks on his style. The younger John is also soon part of the "new" Chicago blues scene and he becomes friends and plays with Muddy, Little Walter, Willie Mabon and while also playing frequently in Gary (Indiana) he meets there Jimmy Reed, Eddie Taylor, Albert King and a young singer/ harp player Grace Millard who soon becomes her wife. They form a band together with Albert King on the drums. Albert being a little bit erratic on stage and in his life, Grace progressively takes the drummer role on the band. One night, one of the patron is none other than the pianist Big Maceo who offers them to go to Detroit and record with him in 1950 for the Fortune label.
            Their recording career is then launched: John waxes another session with Roosevelt Sykes, signs with Joe Brown for his fledgling label JOB and records several stunning tracks in 1951-52, almost all masterpieces: broody voice, excellent lyrics, tight interaction between the guitar of Brim and the piano of Sunnyland Slim, a perfect updating of the Carr/ Blackwell music.
            But JOB is a small outfit that never pays his artists and in 1953, John Brim who wants more from his music is in the Chess studio with the cream of the Chicago bluesmen, particularly Little Walter, Louis Myers, Eddie Taylor and Fred Below: Rattlesnake, blatantly inspired by Hound Dog, is a hit but Chess, facing a lawsuit by Leiber and Stoller, composers of Hound Dog, has to withdraw the record. In 1953, Brim plays the guitar behind his friend Albert King on his first ever session and also waxes the very strong Tough times which will become his best selling number as well as his trademark and an all-time Chicago postwar blues classic!
            But there is not a strong feeling between John and Phil Chess and when, convinced by Jimmy Reed, he tries his luck at Vee Jay's (but no record issued whatsoever), Chess drops him definitively. The late 1950's are lean years for the deep blues like John Brim's. The Brims leave then Chicago for settling in Gary where they buy a laundry. But the music bug is still there, John teaching guitar and bass to his sons. And in 1971, the Brim family record a new 45 that unfortunately goes nowhere. He will have to wait 18 more years to be rediscovered by the valiant Austrian label Wolf, recording a new excellent session . Then, encouraged by young admirers, he will resume his musical career, appearing as a "living legend" in several festivals and recording two excellent CDs.
            He dies on October, 1st, 2003 four years after his wife Grace, leaving a small but brilliant record legacy.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

JOHN BRIM/ The Complete Recordings 1950-71
John Brim, vcl/g; Big Maceo, pno. Detroit, Mi. 1950
01. Bus driver
John Brim, vcl/g; Roosevelt Sykes, pno. Saint Louis, Mo. 1951
02. Dark clouds
03. Lonesome man blues
John Brim, vcl/g; Sunnyland Slim, pno/vcls; Moody Jones, bs. Chicago, Ill. 27 septembre 1951
04. Young and wild
05. I love my baby
06. Trouble in the morning
07. Humming blues
John Brim, vcl/g; Sunnyland Slim, pno; Eddie Taylor, g; Moody Jones, bs; Grace Brim, dms/hca. Chicago, Ill. 22 août 1952
08. Hard pill to swallow
09. Drinking woman
John Brim, vcl/g; Ernest Cotton, t-sax; Sunnyland Slim, pno; Pete Franklin, g; Big Crawford, bs; Alfred Wallace, dms. Chicago, Ill. octobre 1952
10. Don't leave me (No name blues)
11. Moonlight blues
John Brim, vcl/g; Little Walter, hca; Louis Myers, g; Dave Myers, g; Willie Dixon, bs; Fred Below, dms. Chicago, Ill. mars 1953
12. Rattlesnake
13. It was a dream
John Brim, vcl/g; Little Walter, hca; Eddie Taylor, g; Elga Edmonds, dms. Chicago, Ill. 4 mai 1953
14. Ice cream man
15. Lifetime baby
John Brim, vcl/g; Jimmy Reed, hca; Eddie Taylor, g; Grace Brim, dms. Chicago, Ill. mars 1954
16. Tough times
17. Gary stomp
John Brim, vcl/g; James Dalton, hca; W.C. Dalton, g; Grace Brim, dms. Chicago, Ill. janvier 1955
18. Go away
19. That ain't right
John Brim, vcl/g; Little Walter, hca; Robert Lockwood Jr, g; Willie Dixon, bs; Fred Below, dms. Chicago, Ill. 5 avril 1956
20. Be careful
21. You got me
John Brim, vcl/g; John Brim Jr, g; Steve Brim, bs; Grace Brim, dms. Chicago, Ill. 1971
22. You put the hurt on me
23. Movin' out

Alternate takes and tracks by Grace Brim are not included here

lundi 2 juillet 2018

HOWLIN' WOLF/ Complete Live Recordings 1963-72

HOWLIN' WOLF: Complete Live Recordings 1963-72

Après avoir essayé de regrouper tous les enregistrements effectués "live" par Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), nous tentons d'en faire de même avec Howlin' Wolf.
            La tâche a été - si possible - encore plus compliquée car s'étendant sur une décennie. Même si Howlin' Wolf a été saisi en concert (au Copacabana Club de Chicago) en 1963 pour une parution sur un LP Argo, il lui a surtout fallu se rendre en Europe avec l'AFBF 1964 pour y être substantiellement enregistré, soit dans le cadre de la tournée officielle soit durant la deuxième tournée qu'il a effectuée dans la foulée avec Willie Dixon, Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin et Clifton James. Il faut noter que peu de ces concerts ont été enregistrés pour être publié. Il s'agit essentiellement d'enregistrements effectués par des radios nationales et locales à travers l'Europe dont les stations diffusaient des extraits. Leur qualité technique est correcte dans l'ensemble et permet d'apprécier la teneur complète d'un concert du Wolf à l'époque.
            Les choses se précipitent par la suite. Après que les Rolling Stones durant leur première tournée américaine aient insisté auprès de Shindig, l'émission musicale TV de la chaîne ABC, très populaire auprès des ados, pour qu'y apparaisse Howlin' Wolf avant eux, les concerts américains du Wolf se multiplient et avec eux, les enregistrements sur du matériel de fortune et sans passer par le système d'amplification. A l'exception du concert du 26 janvier 1972 à Alice's Revisited, aucune de ces bandes n'était destinée à être publiée. Elles sont apparues sur des labels plus ou moins pirates au cours des années avec un son souvent très médiocre voire éprouvant. Nous avons essayé d'améliorer autant que possible leur "qualité" sonore mais la tâche a été souvent trop rude! Malgré tout, nous les proposons ici en tant que documents.
            Même s'il n'était encore qu'un jeune sexagénaire, Wolf était très malade, les années de son épouvantable enfance marquée par la violence, l'abus et les privations faisant leur néfaste effet sur sa santé. Après un accident de voiture le 1er janvier 1973, son système rénal arrête de fonctionner et, devant plusieurs fois par semaine subir une dialyse rénale, il continue (par nécessité financière) à tourner et jouer en public. Mais il est très diminué et souvent chante entièrement assis et seulement quelques morceaux, laissant l'essentiel du concert à son orchestre, dirigé par Eddie Shaw. Plusieurs disques pirates de ces dernières années ont paru ici et là que nous avons choisi de ne pas faire figurer ici, la dernière fois où le Wolf apparaît dans toute sa splendeur étant, à notre avis, le Ann Arbor Jazz & Blues Festival de 1972.
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT

            After those of Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), we have tried to gather all (or the most possible!) live recordings of another blues master, Howlin' Wolf!
            The task has been - if any!- even more complicated because spanning on a decade.
            Even if Howlin' Wolf has been recorded live at the Copacabana Club in 1963 for the Argo LP's "Folk Festival of the Blues", the bulk of his 1960's live recordings was mostly done in Europe. He was one of the big star of the AFBF 1964, taking the dedicated European audiences by storm. His success was such that he and some members of the AFBF line-up (Willie Dixon, Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin and Clifton James) embarked in the wake for a further tour of Europe until November 1964. If few of those European 1964 gigs were recorded to be issued on LP, they were done by radio stations with good technical equipments and for the purpose of broadcasting some tunes during their jazz programmes. Now they stay as a testimony of what the Wolf sounded at that time when he was in full possession of his considerable talent and stage presence.
            In the USA, Wolf's career took a decisive turn when the Rolling Stones - while touring America in 1965 - insisted with ABC's Shindig, a TV programme very popular to teenagers, that Howlin' Wolf would appear before us. Thus, suddenly, Wolf would be able to be lined-up in festivals and concert halls throughout the country before a white audience! Apparently, several of those (and probably still much more are laying in the vaults) were recorded, very often on primitive equipments. With the exception of the 1972 Alice's Revisited venue, none of those US recordings had to be issued. They appeared throughout the years on more or less confidential bootleg albums. The sound is sometime very poor and, although we have tried to improve it with our home studio, it's quite often still very bad. We have included them anyway here for documentary purpose.
            Unfortunately, even he was only in his early 60's, the Wolf was beginning very ill, the dreadful years of his childhood when he suffered greatly of violence, abuse and unbelievable bad treatments (he got his hoarse voice because he wasn't allowed by his uncle to sleep in the house, even during cold winters and he had to beg for food to passengers' trains during the nearby stops) took their harmful toll. After a bad car accident during 1973 New Years' Eve, Howlin' Wolf had henceforth to undergo kidney dialysis several times a week. Although he had still to play gigs throughout the country for making a living, he was strongly diminished and mostly played and sung seated and only a few numbers, leaving most of the set to his band, led by Eddie Shaw. Several bootleg recordings of those late concerts have also popped up but we have chosen not to feature them.
                                        Gérard Herzhaft