Hazel Meyers

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1923-24)

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Blues woman Hazel Meyers is said to have cut more than 40 sides for seven different labels in New York City during the years 1923-1926. Twenty-three of these were reissued in 1996 on Document 5430, as the first volume of her complete recorded works. As is the case with many of the nearly forgotten early female blues artists in the Document catalog, hardly any biographical data about Meyers has come to light. We know that she spent several years touring with a show called "Steppin' High", made her earliest records with pianist and composer Porter Grainger and aspiring bandleader Fletcher Henderson, and two of her last with young Fats Waller. Interestingly, on "Low Down Papa" and the "Graveyard Dream Blues" she is backed by pianist Leslie Hutchinson, destined for fame in Great Britain during the Second World War as "Hutch." Henderson, who was quite busy during the early to mid-'20s providing piano accompaniments for female blues singers, often brought along players from his jazzy little dance band. On this collection, for example, Meyers is heard with cornetists Joe Smith, Howard Scott, and Elmer Chambers, as well as clarinetist Don Redman. In June of 1924 she recorded with her Sawin' Trio, composed of cornetist Bubber Miley and two-thirds of the Choo Choo Jazzers: clarinetist Bob Fuller, and pianist Louis Hooper. Joe Smith, best known for his work with Bessie Smith, seems to have been well-suited for the measured, down to earth delivery of Meyers. Listen for Smith's subtly creative mute technique on the "Awful Moanin' Blues" and his expressive intonation during the "Mason-Dixon Blues." Eleven of this singer's later recordings were lumped together with titles by Edna Hicks and Laura Smith onto one CD (Document 5431) as "Volume Two" of their combined complete recorded works. Two more Meyers recordings subsequently surfaced on Document 1005 as Female Blues: The Remaining Titles, amidst 21 recordings by ten other women.

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