Various Artists

Territory Singers, Vol. 1 (1922-28)

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Collectors of early blues recordings must love the Document label for this Austrian company, produced by Johnny Parth, is a long way into its mission of reissuing every prewar blues recordings, generally in chronological order. While many of its CDs feature the complete output of one performer, some are multi-artist sets since some blues performers only recorded a handful of titles. Territory Singers has recordings that for one reason or another were left out of sets by Ada Brown and Bertha Henderson, it has the two vocal numbers by Jeanette's Synco Jazzers (which have Mary Lou Williams on piano at the beginning of her career) and it includes the complete if tiny output of Roberta Dudley, Ruth Lee, Missouri Anderson, Sadie McKinney, Arah "Baby" Moore, Ben Norsinger and Emma Wright. The backup groups on quite a few of these performances are at least as interesting as the singers. Dudley and Lee were Los Angeles based singers who in 1922 were backed on two numbers apiece by Kid Ory's band. Ada Brown is joined by the Bennie Moten Orchestra (which at the time was a sextet), while trumpeters Leonard Davis and Joe Thomas uplift the performances of, respectively, Bertha Henderson and Missouri Anderson. While not essential, this fine overview has many moments of interest.

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