Trixie Smith

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1925-1939)

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Trixie Smith was a fine vaudeville-style singer who could also do a powerful job on the blues when called for. The second of two Document CDs that contain all of her recordings starts out with 13 selections from 1925. Smith is joined by her "Down Home Syncopators" (actually the Original Memphis Five) on the first two songs, "Everybody Loves My Baby" and "How Come You Do Me Like You Do." She is heard on two sets in which she is joined by a quintet that includes trombonist Charlie Green, clarinetist Buster Bailey and most notably Louis Armstrong, and is featured later in the year with several top Fletcher Henderson sidemen. On these dates, the more memorable selections include the masochistic "You've Got to Beat Me to Keep Me," "He Likes It Slow" and her classic train song "Railroad Blues." There are also two takes of "Messin' Around" from 1926 in which Trixie is heard as part of Jimmy Blythe's Ragamuffins, a band including clarinetist Johnny Dodds and the legendary cornetist Freddie Keppard. The final eight selections on this 23-cut CD are taken from Smith's May 26, 1938 session, with one number, "No Good Man," dating from the following year and finding her assisted by a band that includes trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen and clarinetist Barney Bigard. The 1938 set matches Trixie with the fiery young trumpeter Charlie Shavers, a restrained Sidney Bechet on soprano, and a four-piece rhythm section. Although she had not recorded in a dozen years, Trixie Smith is in prime form on such numbers as "Freight Train Blues," two versions of "My Daddy Rocks Me" and "He May Be Your Man (But He Comes to See Me Sometime)." Apparently an alcohol problem shortened both Smith's career and life, but one does not hear any decline during these excellent performances. Highly recommended, while the less essential Vol. 1 is worth picking up too.

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