Curtis Jones

Complete Works, Vol. 2 (June 1938 - June 1939)

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Back in the 1990s, Document reissued the "complete recorded works" of singing blues pianist Curtis Jones in four volumes, covering the years 1937-1953. Volume two presented 25 sides dating from a 12-month period beginning and ending in the summers of 1938 and 1939. Jones was signed to Vocalion at the time, and the "Reefer Hound Blues" was so popular that it was also issued on the Sears, Roebuck & Co.'s Conqueror label (tracks 13 and 14). Fortunately for posterity, Vocalion and Bluebird were competing for record sales, and this resulted in large catalogs which today serve as valuable reservoirs of classic prewar blues. While some of the players remain unidentified (including an electrically amplified guitarist on tracks 7-12), we do know that Jones used guitarists Joe McCoy, Willie Bee, and, on tracks 15-25, Hobson "Hot Box" Johnson. Charlie McCoy plays mandolin on "Who You're Hunchin'" (which makes for an interesting comparison with a similarly titled record by the Chick Webb Orchestra); legendary Chicago session bassist Ransom Knowling has been positively identified on tracks 7 and 8, and the drummer on tracks 13-22 is believed to have been Fred Williams, another linchpin in the Chicago blues scene of the 1930s and a regular participant in sessions led by guitarist Big Bill Broonzy. This volume ends with the first three titles from a 1939 recording date that featured in part vocalist Lillie Mae Kirkman, who by the late '40s would make records with Memphis Slim and a group billed as Lillie Mae & the House Rockers. The remainder of the 1939 session's output opens the third volume of Curtis Jones on Document.

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