Various Artists

Ladies Sing the Blues: Roots of Rock 'n' Roll, Vol. 5 [Savoy 1995]

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Savoy bundled this two-LP set into its massive Roots of Rock 'n' Roll series, designating it as Vol. 5. The album has been reissued on CD by Savoy, but with ten fewer tracks than on the original two-LP album. All tracks were recorded in the New York City area. Thus, these are East Coast blues, horns rather than guitar being the major instruments of choice. That accounts for the presence of well-known jazz artists among the sidemen. Some of the singers went on to bigger things. Linda Hopkins found steady work on the musical stage, having a leading role in such shows as Show Train, where she portrayed Bessie Smith. Some of the performers recorded under their stage names. Little Esther, born Esther Phillips, who made her name singing with Johnny Otis, is heavily represented and with her nasal twang, and made many albums. Miss Rhapsody, Viola Wells, shows an allegiance to the style and delivery of Ethel Waters. Big Maybelle, aka Maybelle Smith, is one of the more awesome performers on this set. Possessing a powerful voice, she attacks each of the cuts with abandon, but an abandon which she completely controls. She is backed by such prominent jazz personages as Frank Rehack, Sahib Shihab, and Jerome Richardson. Albinia Jones was able to command the presence of top rank jazz performers on her albums. With her on this compilation are jazz greats Don Byas and Dizzy Gillespie. Over the years, Savoy was never reluctant to issue collections from many of its better albums, and this one is no exception. It includes its major blues artists with some of their major recordings. Blues and jazz fans alike will be thoroughly entertained by the performances on this set. One unexpected outcome of the release of this compilation is that Albinia Jones, thought to have died in obscurity, was found to be alive and well in the Bronx, NY.

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