Various Artists

The Greatest Blues Shouters 1944-1955

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The French Fremeaux & Associes label specializes in double-disc blues and jazz compilations that usually consist of wisely chosen musical selections as well as a booklet packed with historical photographs, a detailed discography and informative texts in both French and English. The Greatest Blues Shouters 1944-1955 contains 40 rock-solid performances by 13 men who collectively embodied and personified post-WWII urban blues and what came to be called rhythm & blues. The root system of this music lies very much within the jazz world of the '20s, '30s and '40s. Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Rushing were both products of the legendary music scene in Kansas City; Rushing sang with Bennie Moten and Count Basie, while Turner rose to prominence by collaborating with pianist Pete Johnson. Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and Eddie Mack achieved their first claims to fame as members of the Cootie Williams orchestra. Wynonie Harris and Jimmy Witherspoon both named Big Joe as a primary influence. Witherspoon replaced Walter Brown as Jay McShann's vocalist and Harris came up with Lionel Hampton, Lucky Millinder and Illinois Jacquet. Sonny Parker is heard with vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and his orchestra as well as Gladys Hampton and her Blue Boys, groups that included guitarist Wes Montgomery, trombonist Al Grey and keyboardist Milt Buckner. Tiny Bradshaw made his first recordings as a leader in 1934; initially a novelty swing performer, Bradshaw was right at the heart of the rhythm & blues movement of the early '50s. So was Louis Jordan, whose likeable vocal style and amazing facility as an alto saxophonist was developed during his tenure with drummer and bandleader Chick Webb. The rest of the shouters featured on this whopping collection typify the full-bodied, often rocking rhythm & blues movement of the late '40s and early '50s. Roy Brown is most often cited as the composer of Wynonie Harris' hit tune, "Good Rockin' Tonight," while H-Bomb Ferguson and Piney Brown each patterned his style after the example of Wynonie Harris. Smiley Lewis has been compared with Big Joe Turner; his "Lowdown" was recorded in his hometown of New Orleans with a smart little sextet featuring trumpeter Dave Bartholomew. All of this great music is guaranteed to improve your circulation and put lead in your pencil.

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