The Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - episode 261

Legends Mix

This transcript of the radio show is an approximation of what I said in the show. The real spoken parts may differ slightly.

And I'm glad to be back on your radio again, my faithful listeners, for another hour of great blues, jumping jazz and the best of Rhythm & Blues from times when the music was great and well, life was full of hardships. And today's journey starts in the roaring twenties, with one of the very best blues of Bessie Smith. This is the ultimate alcoholic's song. Don't want no clothes and don't need no bed. Don't want no pork chops, just give me gin instead.

Backed by Porter Grainger on the piano and Joe Williams on trombone, and issued on Columbia in '28 here is Bessie Smith with Me And My Gin.

01 - Bessie Smith - Me And My Gin
02 - Jelly Roll Morton - Dr. Jazz

Dr. Jazz - you heard the self-proclaimed inventor of jazz, Jelly Roll Morton in one of the rare occasions where he also sings. Ferdinand Lamothe was born in a Creole family of New Orleans and took the surname of his stepfather, Mouton. At age fourteen he played the piano in a local brothel. When his family found out, he was thrown out of the house. From here he used the anglicized version of his name, Morton, in order to no longer disgrace the name of the family. From 1910 he moved up North, toured the nation and he finally settled in Chicago that was becoming the new center of jazz after many New Orleans musicians had moved there. His band the Red Hot Peppers consisted of many of his old friends from the Crescent City.

Later he moved with the flow of jazz musicians to New York, but from the depression he soon got invisible. His arrogant ways had many musicians refusing to work with him.

As a composer, arranger and band leader Morton had a huge impact on the development of jazz, but his bragging to have invented the style - he never would have needed it, and his mark on music would probably have been even more than it is now.

Next from 1925 pianist Lemuel Fowler with his Washboard Wonders. Fowler was an active pianist in the twenties, with 80 recordings, that is, if you count the 23 piano rolls with them. As a songwriter he's most remembered for his classic He May Be Your Man But He Comes To See Me Sometimes. After 1932 he dropped out of music, resurfaced for a moment thirty years later, and was never heard of since.

Here he is on the Columbia label with the Salty Dog.

03 - Fowler's Washboard Wonders - Salty Dog
04 - Barrelhouse Buck McFarland - I Got To Go Blues


05 - Richard M. Jones - Black Rider
06 - Billie Holiday - Fine And Mellow

You got four in a row - after the Salty Dog, that was Barrelhouse Buck McFarland, a St. Louis bluesman, with I Got To Go. On this session he adopted a rasping voice that well matches the fiddler that spices up this blues. Peetie Wheatstraw does the guitar on this one.

Then came the jingle and on the Bluebird label from '36 the pianist and songwriter Richard M. Jones, with the Black Rider. It was the flip of his '36 recording of Trouble In Mind, the famous blues that he composed in the twenties, and he was on the piano in the first recording with Thelma La Vizzo in 1924.

And then finally you got Billie Holiday, a perfect simple blues from '39 that served as the flip of her legendary Strange Fruit, her famous protest song against the lynchings in the South. Columbia had refused to record the song, so it ended up on the tiny Commodore label and still sold some 20 thousand copies. This Fine and Mellow has Sonny White on piano, Frankie Newton on the muted trumpet and the opening riff is done by Tab Smith. It was the last one of the session, somewhat improvised since they needed one more song for the 78, and it turned out to be a real gem.

Next a 1939 re-recording of the Downhearted Blues on Decca. Alberta Hunter followed Trixie Smith in this - both women re-done some of their hits from the acoustic recording era with a contemporary sounding combo and the result definitely sounds nice. Here is Alberta Hunter.

07 - Alberta Hunter - Down hearted Blues
08 - Fats Waller - Fats Waller's Original E-Flat Blues

From 1940 on the Bluebird label, Fats Waller's Original E-Flat Blues - that was the title. Fats Waller had the great combination of being one of the best jazz pianists ever and a great comedian, and the latter seems to have hampered his career as a leading pianist somewhat. He had great ambitions, and no-one knows how far he would have got achieving them. He died too young, at age 39 - on the train from Los Angeles to Chicago, the pneumonia killed him before the train rolled into Kansas City station. His funeral drew over 4000 people and his ashes were spread over Harlem from a small plane.

Next the St. Louis blueswoman Streamline Mae, also known as St. Louis Bessie Mae Smith, and there's no relationship to the Bessie Smith that I started today's show with. In fact, the St. Louis blueswoman always had to explain that she just bore the same name but was another singer.

From 1941 on the Okeh label here she is with the Streamline Blues.

09 - Streamline Mae (St. Louis Bessie Mae Smith) - Streamline Blues
10 - Nat King Cole - That Ain't Right

That Ain't Right - the first hit for Nat King Cole and his trio, just before they left Decca. Their next record, All For You, was recorded for the Excelsior label, but it soon got a re-release on Capitol, and Cole signed for the new West Coast label, that brought him a string of hits, starting with Straighten Up And Fly Right. It's with Capitol that he found out he could achieve more success with pop songs instead of the uptempo jive material that made him famous in the first place.

And for the next one we stay with the Decca label with a 1937 recording of Count Basie. On the microphone is blues shouter Jimmy Rushing, and he also wrote this song. Here they are with Good Morning Blues.

11 - Count Basie - Good Morning Blues
12 - Julia Lee - Do You Want It

From 1949 Julia Lee and her Boyfriends with Do you Want It on the Capitol label. The Boyfriends were Jay McShann, Benny Carter and guitarist Nappy Lamare. Her Capitol sides, light happy songs with spicy lyrics, is what she's best known of, but a few sessions survived with her brother George, from 1929 in Kansas City for the Brunswick label. A session she done in '23 for Okeh went unissued.

Next from the Black & While label Jack McVea and his band credited as the Door Openers, after their unexpected hit Open The Door Richard where he put a riff on a vaudeville sketch and that way, made it a big hit. As often, the band got some time named after this big hit. Here they are with the Groovin' Boogie.

13 - Jack McVea - Groovin Boogie
14 - Memphis Slim - Motherless Child

On the Miracle label Memphis Slim with the Motherless Child, from 1947. The single got a re-release on King's subsidiary Federal in '51 - when this definitely didn't sound old-fashioned yet. The lineup consisted of two saxophonists - a tenor and an alto - and the slap bass that in earlier recordings was done by Willie Dixon but on this one he got replaced by Ernest Big Crawford. The group eventually got the name of the House Rockers after their boogie Rocking The House.

Next the Atlanta blues shouter Billy Wright. It was Paul Williams, and we know him from the Huckle-Buck, who saw Wright perform at Atlanta's 81 Theatre and got him a record contract with the Savoy label. Wright in his turn, was a major influence on Little Richard, and he helped him jumpstart his career in the early fifties.

Recorded in December of 1950 here is Mean Old Wine.

15 - Billy Wright - Mean Old Wine
16 - Gene Redd feat. Valerie Carr - I Dreamed The Blues
17 - Eddie Chamblee - All Out

The tenor sax of Eddie Chamblee was that, with All Out that he recorded for the Miracle label in 1950 but the label did not release it at the time - in fact that was a problem with a lot of recordings done for Miracle. Before that the band of Gene Redd on the Federal label, and that female voice was Valerie Carr. You heard I Dreamed The Blues and that was from 1953.

And with these two this show comes to an end - as always some rocking fifties, some roaring twenties and everything in between. With as a the highlight what I started with, that drinking blues of Bessie Smith - and now, there were a lotta women dubbed queen of the blues, but there was just one empress of the blues - and that's Bessie Smith.

Well of course I give a lot of my own opinions - and well if you agree or not, you can give feedback and that is greatly appreciated. The address is - and unlike these days, a stamp is not required. Then of course, all of today's show, you can read it at the website of my little program - simply type Legends of the Rocking Dutchman in Google or your favorite search engine - they all know me. Once in, this was show number 261 and you're gonna need that number to find it in that long list of episodes that I done up to now.

For today I'm done so I hope to see you again next time, here on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman!