The style of music known as boogie-woogie is believed to have originated in the Southern United States during the 1920s as after-hours entertainment for denizens of work encampments specializing in turpentine production. The earliest practitioners of this rigorously rhythmic technique were soon overlooked when the boogie entered mainstream pop culture through the conduit of jazz bands during the late '30s and early '40s. In 1996 the Jasmine label released a collection of classic boogie-woogie as played by small ensembles during the years 1936-1941. Although such archetypal woogie men as Cow Cow Davenport, Meade "Lux" Lewis, and Speckled Red do not appear in this lineup, the roster of participants is impressive and does include Albert Ammons, Count Basie, Pete Johnson, Sammy Price, and Bluebird's bastion of boogie, Big Maceo Merriweather. This entertaining retrospective combines gut-level entertainers like Joe Turner, Tampa Red, the Harlem Hamfats, and Wingy Manone with hip bandleaders Lionel Hampton, Buddy Johnson, and Erskine Butterfield. The inclusion of examples by prerequisite Caucasian cookers Benny Goodman, Will Bradley, Woody Herman, and Harry James makes this collection contextually complete. In a genre densely populated by anthologies of varying worth, this one should be regarded as an excellent choice.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf