Arpeggio's Play Your Hand is a particularly satisfying Big Bill Broonzy collection that focuses on the years 1945-1947. It opens with four tunes from a date that was relatively unusual in that Broonzy, one of Chicago's premiere bluesmen, was accompanied by tenor saxophonist Don Byas, a prime mover in early modern jazz. This collection finds Broonzy in the company of an unprecedented number of horn players: in addition to trumpeter Johnny Morton, he is backed by R&B saxophonists Buster Bennett, Bill Casimir, and Oett "Sax" Mallard. Along with his customary circle of Chicago session men, on these Columbia and Okeh recordings, Broonzy was supported by pianists Big Maceo Merriweather and Memphis Slim. These recordings are different from Broonzy's blues and hokum records of the '30s, and are from his more intimate, often folk-infused efforts from the ‘50s. For a more thorough examination of his work during a profoundly transitional decade, look to JSP's four-CD set The War and Post War Years 1940-51.
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