Various Artists

Jazzin' the Blues, Vol. 2 (1939-1946)

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This entry from the massive Document catalog of prewar blues is quite a mixed bag. There are relatively few blues among the 25 selections. Most of the music, which is the complete output of six groups or singers, is jazz-oriented but does not necessarily fit into that genre either, and there are selections that are equal parts blues, jazz, folk and pop. The Bandanna Girls are a vocal duet from 1939 and cut four numbers that are as much swing as blues. "Money Is Honey" is most memorable. Trumpeter Wingy Carpenter is a now-forgotten Harlem performer who featured guitarist Jimmy Shirley in his group, the Wingies. Creole George Guesnon is today best remembered (if at all) for his work on banjo and guitar with clarinetist George Lewis in the 1950s and at Preservation Hall in the '60s. Much earlier, he recorded four vocal numbers in 1940, and two in 1946 with such backup as Wingy Carpenter's group, trumpeter Henry Goodwin, and pianist Art Hodes. His folk and blues singing is so effective that it is surprising that he did not record more as a vocalist during the '40s and '50s. The Four Blackamoors were a decent but not particularly vocal group that featured an unidentified backup group comprised of violin, piano, guitar, and bass. Mabel Robinson was a fine singer who only recorded six numbers during 1941-1942 including four with the instrumental backup of the Four Blackamoors and two songs with Sammy Price's Bluesicians. This CD closes with an out-of-place pop number by the Grooveners, their only recording. The main reason to acquire this CD is for the Creole George Guesnon performances.

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