Andy Kirk

All Out for Hicksville

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The second of two albums put out by the Scottish Hep label has all of Andy Kirk's recordings during a ten-month period early in his career. While the titles have since been reissued on a Classics CD, there are four alternate takes on this LP that were skipped over. First, Kirk's band (one of the finest in Kansas City during the era) performs eight songs in 1930 with such soloists as trumpeter Edgar "Puddinghead" Battle, trombonist Floyd Brady, John Williams on baritone and alto, violinist Claude Williams and pianist Mary Lou Williams, whose arrangements were largely responsible for the band's success; the vocals by Billy Massey and Dick Robertson are much less memorable than the contributions of the musicians. The second half of the program features the orchestra in 1931 playing "Casey Jones" and backing Blanche Calloway on two takes of "There's Rhythm In the River" and three of her trademark "I Need Lovin'." Excellent pre-swing music.