Various Artists

Kansas City Blues 1944-1949

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This wonderful three-CD set, released in 1997, has 73 consistently exciting -- and mostly formerly rare -- performances from Kansas City-based players, released complete and in chronological order. Pianist Jay McShann, vocalist/pianist Julia Lee, pianist/singer Buster Moten, blues singer Walter Brown, saxophonist Tommy Douglas and vocalist Tiny Kennedy are the leaders of the overlapping groups, and although the sidemen are mostly obscure (other than tenorman Ben Webster, who is on two dates), they show plenty of talent and color. The styles range from urban blues and Julia Lee's sly double-entendre songs to heated instrumentals that hint strongly at early R&B. Very enjoyable and accessible music quite suitable both for parties and for close listening.

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