Memoir's 20-track salute to pianist and composer Clarence Profit brings together his Brunswick, Columbia, and Decca trio recordings from 1939-1940, topped with four early examples of his work with two washboard-driven ensembles. Profit is remembered as a brilliant improviser whose abilities were comparable to those of Eddie Heywood, Jr., Nat King Cole, and Herman Chittison. Clearly inspired by Earl Hines, Profit stood his ground in a cutting contest with Art Tatum, hung out with George Wallington, and influenced young Bud Powell. Tragically, illness exacerbated by self-neglect took him out at the age of 32 in October 1944, abruptly terminating a standing engagement at the Village Vanguard and preventing him from playing a more sustained active role in the rapid rise of early modern jazz. Profit's all-too-tiny recorded legacy proves that during this period his trio (with bassist Ben Brown and guitarists Billy Moore or Jimmy Shirley), were setting a precedent for the soon-to-be-very-popular King Cole Trio. Most of Profit's compositions are represented here: an original take on "The Blues"; "Don't Leave Me," "Down Home," "Tropical Nights" (apparently informed by several years spent gigging in the West Indies), and his "Times Square Blues." The absence of his most often-covered tune, "Lullaby in Rhythm," co-composed with longtime friend Edgar Sampson, indicates that like Fats Waller (who died at the age of 39), Profit didn't live long enough to record everything he wrote. While not much is known about his bass player, guitarist Billy Moore recorded with Slam Stewart in 1939, and Jimmy Shirley may be heard on records cut in 1940-1941 by vocalist Creole George Guesnon, trumpeter Theodore Wingy Carpenter, and clarinetist Artie Shaw. The final four tracks on this collection differ markedly from the early modern sophistication of the trio sides, especially the scruffily bracing 1930 recordings "Kazoo Moan" (featuring the rasping, throaty kazoo of Harold Randolf), and "Washboards Get Together," a showcase for the scat singing and rambunctious persona of washboard virtuoso Bruce Johnson. A thorough survey of Profit's recordings as pianist for these rub-board groups would entail no less than 47 selections by the Washboard Serenaders, the Georgia Washboard Stompers, the Alabama Washboard Stompers, and the Washboard Rhythm Kings. Virtually all of those sides have been systematically reissued by the Collector's Classics label. As it stands, Memoir's Clarence Profit collection stands as this artist's only retrospective in the digital format.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Washboard Serenaders
feat: Washboard Serenaders