Victoria Spivey

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1936-1937)

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Victoria Spivey is best remembered today for her recordings in the 1920s and for her work with her Spivey label in the '60s, but she also made a fairly extensive series of records from 1936-1937. The final of her four Document CDs has all of the latter except for a few titles included on Vol. 3. The 22 cuts include ten previously unreleased performances. Spivey is joined by a variety of Chicago-based musicians on four of the five sessions: either Lee Collins (who gets carried away in spots) or Sheiks on trumpet; sometimes the erratic clarinetist Arnett Nelson; and a rhythm section with either Dorothy Scott, Black Bob, J.H. Shayne, Aletha Robinson or Addie "Sweet Pease" Spivey on piano. (Big Bill Broonzy plays guitar on one session.) In addition, Spivey is heard on a New York date with five musicians who were with the Luis Russell Orchestra (which had become Louis Armstrong's backup group): pianist Russell, trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen, clarinetist Albert Nicholas, altoist Charlie Holmes, and bassist Pops Foster. Throughout, Spivey's voice is in fine form with the music ranging from good-time to Chicago-style blues. Highlights include "Mr. Freddie Blues," "Trouble in Mind," "Detroit Moan," "I Ain't Gonna Let You See My Santa Claus," "One Hour Mama," and "Good Cabbage." Although not as essential as her earlier work, this CD is worth picking up. It seems strange that Spivey (who up to the late '30s managed to stay fairly up to date) did not hook up with a swinging big band; instead, she would not record again until 1961.

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