Cow Cow Davenport

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3

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Cow Cow Davenport, an important blues and boogie-woogie pianist/singer from the 1920s, was living in obscurity in Cleveland in the early '40s. He could still sing even if his playing was slightly weakened by arthritis that slowed down his right hand. He was frustrated by life and by the fact that his "Cow Cow Blues" was the basis for an uncredited hit record of "Cow Cow Boogie" by Freddie Slack's orchestra. A lawsuit resulted in him getting paid $500 and he began to think about his legacy. Davenport recorded a set of acetate recordings at his home that were not released until this 1997 CD. Some of the music is barely listenable due to the very scratchy surfaces and a few of these performances, particularly three in which he had his wife Peggy Taylor play the right hand (it sounds like he was teaching her), are forgettable. But there are some important moments along the way. Most rewarding are four selections ("Boogie No. 1," "Boogie No. 2," "Boogie No. 3," and "Boogie No. 4") that have Davenport telling stories about his early days. He talks about what he claims was the origin of the term "boogie-woogie" and says that he was the composer of the traditional "Mama Don't Allow No Piano Playing Here." Davenport sounds like he was inspired by hearing about Jelly Roll Morton having recorded for the Library of Congress, but unfortunately his reminiscences are ultimately incomplete and were not released until decades after his death. He also sings well on "I Got a Gal for Every Day in the Week," and Peggy Taylor does fine on her three vocals. This CD is rounded off by two leftover performances by Mama Yancey from a 1951 house party that was also primitively recorded. This CD is strictly for serious blues collectors who have a tolerance for surface noise.

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