Classic Piano Blues from Smithsonian Folkways

Classic Piano Blues from Smithsonian Folkways


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Folkways might be most known for recording traditional folk and ethnic music, but the label did cut a good deal of blues and jazz while it was in operation. Classic Piano Blues has 20 blues songs in which the piano is the most prominent instrument in the arrangement, and while recording dates are not given for all of the tracks, it seems reasonable to assume they roughly span the early '40s to the mid-'70s. A bunch of major names in the blues field are here, including Memphis Slim, Meade "Lux" Lewis, Champion Jack Dupree, Henry Townsend, Victoria Spivey, Roosevelt Sykes, Little Brother Montgomery, James P. Johnson, and Leadbelly (not a misprint; on his selection "Big Fat Woman," he sings and plays piano, though he's primarily known as a guitarist). Because Folkways was one of the least overtly commercial labels of the mid-20th century, some listeners might find some of this too dryly recorded, as if it's done with at least some concern for folkloric preservation rather than popular appeal. Certainly a high percentage of this features only piano and vocal (and sometimes only piano), though some other accompanists do get in on the act on some selections. But while it might not be the most dance-oriented of collections (though there are some pretty fast-paced cuts), there's a decent variety of material by good blues piano players, ranging from instrumentals to boogies, ballads, laments, jazz blues, and near R&B. Spivey's "You're My Man" and Johnson's "Hesitation Blues" are highlights of a respectable collection, though those with less specialized blues tastes might grow weary of the emphasis on numbers with basic melodic progressions and arrangements.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/24/2008
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
UPC: 0093074019627
catalogNumber: 40196
Rank: 52959

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Willie Dixon   Bass
Champion Jack Dupree   Piano,Vocals
Lead Belly   Piano,Vocals
Memphis Slim   Piano,Vocals
Little Brother Montgomery   Piano,Vocals
Matt "Guitar" Murphy   Guitar
Victoria Spivey   Piano,Vocals
Roosevelt Sykes   Piano,Vocals
Henry Townsend   Piano
James P. Johnson   Piano,Performing Ensemble
Katherine Handy Lewis   Vocals
Big Chief Ellis   Piano,Vocals
Sammy Price   Piano
Henry Brown   Piano
John Cephas   Guitar
Jazz Gillum   Harmonica,Vocals
Booker T. Laury   Piano,Vocals
Meade "Lux" Lewis   Piano
Rufus G. Perryman   Piano,Vocals
Phil Wiggins   Harmonica
Edith North Johnson   Vocals
Chris Lange   Guitar
Bobby Reutwiler   Washboard
Fritz Rüegg   Bass

Technical Credits

Big Bill Broonzy   Composer
Leroy Carr   Composer
Champion Jack Dupree   Composer
Victoria Spivey   Composer
Roosevelt Sykes   Composer
Sammy Price   Composer
Moses Asch   Engineer
Samuel Charters   Engineer
Peter Chatman   Composer
Wilbert Ellis   Composer
Huddie Ledbetter   Arranger
Meade "Lux" Lewis   Composer
Eurreal Montgomery   Composer
Jeff Place   Liner Notes,Annotation
Walter Roland   Composer
Pete Reiniger   Engineer
Charles Segar   Composer
D.A. Sonneborn   Executive Producer
Ben Shahn   Cover Photo
Robert Oswald   Engineer
Nate Utesch   Tray Card

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