The Paramount Masters

Various Artists

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The Paramount Masters Review

by Stewart Mason

Paramount Records didn't know it at the time, but they created one of the most valuable catalogs of early American blues and jazz music ever assembled. Formed by a furniture company called the Wisconsin Chair Company in the mid-teens to facilitate sales for their new phonograph cabinets, Paramount Records (along with its subsidiary labels Broadway, Famous, and Puritan) sent a young man named Art Satherley on the road in the South to explore and exploit the growing "race records" market beginning in 1917. Over the next 15 years, Satherley and the other Paramount Records' representatives recorded well over 100 sides featuring blues and jazz artists as well-known as Charley Patton, Ma Rainey, and Meade Lux Lewis, and an otherwise unknown as Side Wheel Sally Duffie, whose "Bunker Hill Blues" is a piano blues showcase for a high-register, vibrato-heavy vocal of uncertain pitch which sounds almost like a 1920s equivalent to Björk. These 100 sides are presented in chronological order, with as much information is as known about each recording. Sound quality varies widely, and of course is at times atrocious, but the historical import and entertainment value for students of early jazz and blues is immense.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Bob Grant 02:45 Amazon
Lottie Beaman 02:58 Amazon
3 Meade "Lux" Lewis 03:15 Amazon
4 Bo Weavil Jackson 03:11 Amazon
5 Blind Teddy Darby 03:06 Amazon
6 Wesley Wallace 03:14 Amazon
7 Blind Joe Reynolds 02:55 Amazon
8 William Moore 03:03 Amazon
9 James Wiggins 03:09 Amazon
10 George "Bullet" Williams 02:47 Amazon
Bernice Edwards 02:44 Amazon
Harum Scarums 02:45 Amazon
Sweet Papa Stovepipe 03:08 Amazon
Charlie "Dad" Nelson 02:41 Amazon
15 Ma Rainey 02:55 Amazon
16 Charlie Spand 02:59 Amazon
Papa Charlie Jackson 02:54 Amazon
King Solomon 03:09 Amazon
Geeshie Wiley 03:00 Amazon
Washboard Hannah 03:01 Amazon
21 George Hannah 02:49 Amazon
Bumble Bee Slim 03:30 Amazon
23 Reverend Rubin Lacy 03:22 Amazon
Marshall Owens 03:11 Amazon
25 Mary Johnson 03:03 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick