Tiny Grimes


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Lloyd "Tiny" Grimes was a vital force in swing, bebop, and R&B. Ungratefully jettisoned from the roster of the Atlantic record company in 1949, Grimes lined himself up with Gotham Records in Philadelphia. In 2004, the Classics Blues & Rhythm Series reissued all of Grimes' Gotham recordings made between 1949 and 1951. While this is rocking R&B at its very best, the jazz element runs strongly through these tasty vintage jams, and is personified by saxophonists Benny Golson, John Hardee, and Red Prysock; bassist Ike Isaacs; and pianists George Kelly and Freddie Redd. On the first two tracks the great Sonny Payne, later famous for his work with Count Basie, is all over the drums. Grimes himself had developed by 1949 into a first-rate jam-up electric guitarist. No melody was safe from this man's good-time sensibilities, be it "Frankie and Johnny," "Down by the Riverside," "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," or even "Loch Lomond." So successful was this last tune when performed in person that Grimes and his guys put on kilts and started calling themselves the Rocking Highlanders. Most of this stuff is solid, groovy, exciting instrumental dance music. There are only two vocalists on the entire compilation -- Georgia native Claudine Clark and George Grant, who went by the name of Haji Baba. As slim as John Hardee's discography is (mostly Blue Note sides, usually mentioned in the same breath as those of Ike Quebec), his instrumental collaborations with Tiny Grimes are precious indeed. This outstanding compilation ends with a surprise tidbit predating the scope of this segment of the Grimes chronology; inadvertently omitted from an earlier volume in the series, "Jackie's Dance" was recorded near the end of 1947 and features Red Prysock on the tenor sax.

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