Here's a fascinating chronological survey of Ivory Joe Hunter's first commercially released recordings made in Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco during the mid-'40s. Born in Kirbyville, TX, and actually christened Ivory Joe Hunter as an infant, by the age of 13 he had developed into an able pianist capable of playing spirituals in the home and blues whenever he could get away. He made one little record in 1933 on location in Weingate, TX, for Alan Lomax on behalf of the Library of Congress. (Regrettably, that "barrelhouse" piano solo is not included on this compilation.) After several years gigging and leading bands in the southwestern United States he made the California scene in 1941, cutting his first two sides for public consumption with Johnny Moore's Three Blazers in Los Angeles sometime during the year 1945. Released on his own Ivory label and later reissued on Exclusive, "Blues at Sunrise" backed with "You Taught Me to Love" were sung by Hunter with accompaniment by pianist Charles Brown, guitarist Johnny Moore, and bassist Eddie Williams. Months later in San Francisco and Oakland, Ivory Joe started up his second label, Pacific Records, and commenced recording a series of excellent blues, ballads, swing, and boogie tunes that comprise the remainder of this interesting compilation. With him now were trumpeter Ernie Royal, saxophonists Eddie Taylor and John "Pat" Patterson, and guitarist Pee Wee Crayton. "Tavern Swing" is a Louis Jordan/Slim Gaillard-styled routine, while "I'm Sorry" has bop edges similar to what Earl Bostic was starting to put out. Wardell Gray sat in on two excellent sides, "Why Did You Lie" and the explosive "We're Gonna Boogie." Hunter briefly employed a female singer identified only as Aurelia, who sounded more than a bit like Julia Lee. The session of July 2, 1947, bore nine substantial recordings featuring saxophonists Baker Millian and John Patterson. By this time, Ivory Joe Hunter had matured into a very expressive vocalist. His slow tunes in particular are arresting. His "High Cost Low Pay Blues" seems almost frighteningly relevant in today's parsimonious, mean-spirited world.
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