The Mound City Blue Blowers

Hot Comb & Tin Can

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In 1924, one of the most unlikely and successful novelty groups was the Mound City Blue Blowers, a trio comprised of Red McKenzie on comb (blowing into tissue paper wrapped around his "instrument"), Dick Slevin on kazoo, and banjoist Jack Bland. Their first recordings, "Arkansas Blues" and "Blue Blues," actually sold a million copies. McKenzie, who eventually became a ballad singer, recorded with the Mound City Blue Blowers into the 1930s (greatly augmenting and changing the personnel) and also led his "Candy Kids." Twenty-six of his best recordings from 1924-1931, roughly half of his output, is available on Hot Comb & Tin Can. In addition to the basic trio, Frank Trumbauer guests on C-melody sax for two numbers, and there are significant appearances by guitarist Eddie Lang, violinist Joe Venuti, and all-star groups that include trombonists Jack Teagarden and Glenn Miller, pianist Fats Waller, clarinetist Pee Wee Russell, and both Coleman Hawkins and Bud Freeman on tenors. Of the studio recordings, the date that resulted in "Hello Lola" (a hot number that has Miller's finest trombone solo ever) and "One Hour" (highlighted by a classic ballad statement from Hawkins) is most memorable. A special bonus of this CD is the inclusion of three numbers ("St. Louis Blues," "I Ain't Got Nobody," and "My Gal Sal") that are taken from rare Vitaphone short films filmed during 1929-1930. Although this CD is not the complete Mound City Blue Blowers, it is pretty definitive and well worth picking up by collectors of early jazz.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:53
2
2:51
3
3:07
4
2:50
5
2:57
6
2:51
7
3:07
8
3:04
9
3:11
10
feat: Red McKenzie
2:39
11
feat: Red McKenzie
3:18
12
feat: Red McKenzie
2:44
13
feat: Red McKenzie
2:55
14
3:07
15
1:51
16 1:41
17
2:54
18
2:55
19
3:04
20
3:01
21
3:17
22
3:28
23
3:00
24
2:38
25
3:21
26
3:28
blue highlight denotes track pick