Blind Blake

The Essential

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Nearly 30 years after the death of Floridian guitarist Blind Blake (1895-1937), the Biograph label made the unprecedented gesture of reissuing most of his major recordings on several LPs. Biograph's accomplishment was more or less the standard until Yazoo's Blind Blake: Ragtime Guitar's Foremost Fingerpicker came out in 1989. That wonderful album, augmented by the subsequent release of a chronological four-CD series on Document, rekindled interest in this fascinating individual whose stylistic braid of ragtime and blues complemented and paved the way for the later accomplishments of Mississippi John Hurt and North Carolina's Blind Boy Fuller. Issued as a double disc in 2002 by Classic Blues, The Essential Blind Blake renders his considerable output down to 36 well-chosen titles that capture some of his very best moments. Guest artists include New Orleans clarinetist Johnny Dodds and xylophonist Jimmy Bertrand, a native of Biloxi, MS. Sound quality, which, as more Blind Blake titles have come to light has improved steadily thanks to the rapid evolution of digital remastering technology, is quite good. For those who find that they have fallen in love with Blake's warm, friendly voice and remarkable guitar technique, JSP's massive 110-title complete edition will not seem like an extravagance after this little taste of the Essential Blind Blake.

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