Various Artists

Boogie Woogie-Rockin' Roots Tracks

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Despite the omission of Charles "Cow Cow" Davenport and Meade "Lux" Lewis, this 22-track celebration of The Boogie Woogie does present an accurate and convincing overview of the eight-beats-to-the-bar craze that took hold of popular dance music before, during and after the Second World War (1937-1947). Like most developments in jazz and much of popular music in the United States of America, the Boogie Woogie trend was deeply rooted in working class Afro-American culture; the style itself is known to have been developed by pianists providing entertainment for black workers who lived and labored in the grueling environment of Southern turpentine camps. Lewis is invoked by Bob Crosby's Bobcats and pianist Bob Zurke covers Davenport's "Cow Cow Blues." Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and Gene Krupa are each heard clambering onto the bandwagon. "Roll 'Em" was composed by the first lady of Kansas City Swing, Mary Lou Williams. "In the Mood," a tune based upon a riff that had already been used by both Fletcher Henderson and Wingy Manone, was first recorded under its famous title by Joe Garland and Edgar Hayes in February 1938, roughly one and a half years before Glenn Miller recorded his close cover which soon became an international hit. Tommy Dorsey based "his" "Boogie Woogie" on Clarence "Pinetop" Smith's signature tune. Fortunately, the balance of material on this compilation weighs in a bit closer to the heart of the music. Count Basie wrote his own boogies, including the "Red Bank Boogie" in honor of his home town in New Jersey. Albert Ammons, like Basie a gifted stride pianist, delivers one of his very best recorded performances on "Jammin' the Boogie." The boogie is handled with alacrity by Lionel Hampton and Cab Calloway, with finesse by Earl Hines, with authenticity by Pete Johnson and Jay McShann and with modernistic dexterity by Nat King Cole, Slim Gaillard and Oscar Peterson.

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