George W. Williams

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1925-1930)

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Document's second volume of George Williams and Bessie Brown's complete works contains their final recordings as a duo (tracks 1-3 and 8-9, dating from 1925 and 1926) and eight records made by Williams without Brown during the years 1925-1930. This finishes off the chronology begun on the previous volume. Accompanying instrumentalists include Fletcher Henderson and his bandsmen Don Redman and Charlie Green; Canadian-born and Michigan-raised pianist Louis Hooper; songwriter and pianist Lemuel Fowler, and cornetist Harry Tate. Curiously for a bluesman, but not at all unusually for an ex-vaudevillian and theatrically trained performer, Williams shows off his ability to sound like a Swiss mountaineer on "Yodelin' the Blues Away." Eleven titles by six other duos fill out the disc and transform it into a valuable and entertaining anthology of African-American entertainments from the '20s. Eddie Hunter (b.1888) and Alex Rogers (1876-1930) perform "I'm Done" and "Bootlegger's Ball," a pair of vintage spoken comedy routines recorded in 1923 with piano accompaniment by Harlem stride piano master Charles Luckeyeth Roberts. Hunter, who at one point worked as a lyricist for Bert Williams, would later retire from theater and become a very successful businessman specializing in Harlem real estate. "Sweet Mandy" and "Who Calls You Sweet Mama Now" were recorded in 1924 by Louella Jones (Alberta Perkins) and Jazz Caspar (William Weldon "Billy" Higgins), composer of "There'll Be Some Changes Made." The cornetist on this session, Bubber Miley, would soon achieve fame as one of Duke Ellington's star soloists. "Just Too Bad" and "I'm Gonna Kill Myself" were performed in 1926 by pianist Mike Jackson and Mabel Richardson, with Thomas Morris blowing the cornet. Jackson recorded a lot with Morris during this time period, and was a cardinal member of Morris' Hot Babies. Unlike tracks 1-19, which were recorded in New York and New Jersey, "I Don't Care What You Say" and "That Same Cat" came together at a studio in Memphis, TN and were sung by Alfoncy and Bethenea Harris with backing by a trio led by clarinetist Douglas Williams. The male half of Harris & Harris is believed to have been responsible for the brief alto saxophone passages on "I Don't Care." This highly entertaining compilation closes with three hokum recordings made for Brunswick in Chicago during the year 1929. The cleverly named Pete and Repeat were supported by an unidentified guitarist and a pianist believed to have been Clarence "Pinetop" Smith, while the quartet accompanying Hilda Alexander and Mamie McClure, billed as the Backa-Town Boys, is believed to have included trumpeter Natty Dominique (best known for his work with clarinetist Johnny Dodds), banjoist Ikey Robinson, and (apparently the only verified participant) New Orleans string bassist Bill Johnson.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Bessie Brown
3:07
2
feat: Bessie Brown
3:18
3
feat: Bessie Brown
3:12
4
feat: Bessie Brown
3:01
5
feat: Bessie Brown
3:16
6
feat: Bessie Brown
2:44
7
feat: Bessie Brown
3:12
8
feat: Bessie Brown
2:52
9
feat: Bessie Brown
3:05
10
feat: Bessie Brown
2:58
11
feat: Bessie Brown
2:50
12
feat: Bessie Brown
2:56
13
feat: Bessie Brown
2:53
14
3:16
15
feat: Alex Rogers
2:54
16
3:16
17
3:00
18
feat: Mike Jackson
2:59
19
feat: Mike Jackson
3:19
20
2:47
21
2:44
22
2:43
23
3:29
24
3:34
blue highlight denotes track pick