Jack Newman was a blues guitarist who walked into a recording studio in Chicago on May 26 1938, cut two-dozen sides for Vocalion with some of his friends, then left the building and never made another record as far as anyone has ever been able to tell. Although only 16 of those tunes were initially released, all 24 titles were compiled onto one CD and made available to the public by Document in 1995. Because Newman played guitar or piano throughout the session, and six of the original recordings were made under his name, Document brought this out as a Jack Newman album, with three other artists listed on the cover as additional participants. This arbitrary move ranked him "above" vocalists Frankie Jones, James Hall, and Black Bottom McPhail, and Newman would probably have been puzzled by the notion that everything recorded at that session would one day be reissued with his name listed as the primary artist. He might have deferred to Frankie Jones, whose punchy delivery and worldly humor makes one wish that Vocalion had invited her back for another session. McPhail's claim to fame was a 1932 recording date with guitarist Scrapper Blackwell. What Document accomplished by giving Newman first billing was in line with the mission to bring little-known musicians out of the shadows and into the company's catalog where anyone may obtain access to rare and previously unissued recordings.
Share this page