Bob Wills

Rare California Airshots

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These "Rare California Airshots" by Bob Wills were captured and preserved for posterity during the years 1945-1946. This pins them as immediately predating the first of the Tiffany Transcriptions. Wills was an insatiable listener who blended his favorite blues and jazz tunes into the band's country & western style and repertoire with great success. The longest track is a four-and-a-half-minute version of the "31st Street Blues," composed by vaudevillian and ukulele king Wendell Hall. Wills probably heard it first on phonograph records played by Oliver Naylor's Seven Aces or sung by Josie Miles or Clara Smith with backing by Fletcher Henderson. In addition to a take of "Rubber Dolly" that picks up where the Light Crust Doughboys left off, Wills transforms melodies by Kokomo Arnold, Woody Guthrie, Shelton Brooks, and Duke Ellington. The jazz standards are impressive, with a Jack Teagarden-style version of Spencer Williams' "Basin Street Blues" nestled between exciting interpretations of Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose" and the Charlie Christian-Benny Goodman jam vehicle "Seven Come Eleven."

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