Various Artists

The Very Best of Swingin' Jive Guitarists

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AllMusic Review by

P-Vine's Very Best of Swingin' Jive Guitarists is one in a series of historic music compilations, each bearing the phrase "Swingin' Jive" in the title. This language generally places the material in the context of '30s and '40s jazz, and could lead one to expect coordinated hip vocals from guitar-driven groups like the Spirits of Rhythm, the King Cole Trio, or the Cats and the Fiddle and that group's leading exponent, Tiny Grimes. What's actually in this 25-track anthology is 20 years' worth (1927-1947) of jazz and blues recordings that feature a wonderfully broad spectrum of guitarists, ranging from relatively well-known masters of their art like Django Reinhardt (with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France) and Charlie Christian (with Edmond Hall's Celeste Quartet) to equally brilliant but less universally recognized players, each of them deserving wider recognition. "Toledo Shuffle" is one of only two records ever released under the name of guitar wizard Bernard Addison; the same group also recorded as trumpeter Freddy Jenkins' Harlem Seven. Addison is also heard with a group led by stride pianist Willie "The Lion" Smith, and providing accompaniment for vaudeville blues vocalist Coot Grant. Allan Reuss is best remembered as featured guitarist with trombonist Jack Teagarden's orchestra (demonstrated here with "Pickin' for Patsy"). He is also heard with Peck's Bad Boys (named after an old vaudeville show in which George M. Cohan starred as a boy) and the Arnold Ross Quartet. Ted Tinsley was the guitarist in the trio billed as the Harlem House Rent Stompers; "Gravel Pit Stomp" appears to have been their only issued title. This collection is packed with diversity, as Eddie Lang sits in with Wilton Crawley, Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby; Carl Kress demonstrates the "Peg Leg Shuffle," and Dick McDonough works up a swell version of Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose." Ikey Robinson, whose first name was practically "Banjo," switched to guitar for a rowdy "My Four Reasons" with pianist Herman "Ivory" Chittison and a reading of the old rural favorite "Ragged But Right" with somebody named Sloke. The guitarist heard on the "Telephone Blues" is Ed "Snoozer" Quinn, and Big Bill Broonzy tosses off the "W.P.A. Rag" with his Memphis Five. Versatile Jimmy Shirley performs solo and with Alamo "Pigmeat" Markham, Creole George Guesnon and Art Hodes' Back Room Boys. Al Casey, who joined Fats Waller & His Rhythm while still in high school, is heard on two different Waller recordings, and in his own sequel to "Buck Jumpin'," "Buck Still Jumps." There are quite a number of historical swing guitar collections floating around waiting for someone to take notice. This one receives highest marks for well-rounded selection, and is richly stocked with uncommon and entertaining material.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:45
2 2:41
3
3:10
4 2:45
5
2:24
6 2:50
7
3:00
8 3:09
9
3:26
10 2:35
11 2:33
12 2:38
13
3:17
14
2:48
15
3:32
16 3:03
17
2:53
18 3:03
19
3:05
20 3:16
21
2:51
22 2:56
23 2:37
24
1:58
25
4:07
blue highlight denotes track pick