Johnny Dodds was one of the greatest clarinetist of the turn of the 20th century. The list of musicians that he played with are an who’s-who of jazz legends, and after playing with Louis Armstrong’s ensamble, Dodds moved to Chicago and started his own band, the Johnny Dodds’ Trio. “Blue Piano Stomp” one of their earlier recordings from 1928. This number has some blues-y elements and swings with elegant improvisation as the trio plays notes that dance with each other like they’re at a Chicago formal.
“Blue Piano Stomp“ (play/download mp3)
From Kansas City Kitty & Georgia Tom we get this upbeat blues number, “How Can You Have the Blues,” a flirty duet about a woman who appears to have it all, but is continually bogged down by depression. The name Kansas City Kitty may not ring any bells with the most enthusiastic American blues aficionados. It could be because there is a mystery behind the true identity of this sexy voiced blues woman, but what we do know is that this track, recorded in 1930, features Thomas A. Dorsey on piano and vocals, playing under his popular pseudonym Georgia Tom. With its fantastic melody and conversational blues style, this number lends truth to the idea that money can’t buy you happiness.
“How Can You Have The Blues?“ (play/download mp3)
Charlie Spand’s notoriety stems from his genius in the boogie-woogie and barrelhouse style of piano. The first few bars of “Back to the Woods Blues” illustrates what Spand was best at, skillfully moving those fingers over the piano keys to make blues tunes that can’t help but stir the heart. Ultimately, Charlie Spand is an elusive figure in blues history because no one knows much about his life, but what we are left with are 33 of the most wicked piano blues tracks to remember him by.
“Back To The Woods Blues“ (play/download mp3)
Fore day creep means to sneak around at night and cheat. Blues legends Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson turned infidelity into a full-time job. Every woman in the post-war blues circuit knew this, but no one put their foot down on 78 with as much style as Ida Cox. “Fore Day Creep” was recorded in Chicago along with 3 other sides in the summer of 1927. A bluesy piano number, Ida Cox announces in “Fore Day Creep” that she will make her man sleep with a bull dog because she knows he’s a genuine fore day creep. Enjoy this swinging number with your partners, ideally during the day.
Ida Cox, “Fore Day Creep“ (play/download mp3)
Very little is known about the life or career of Blind Leroy Garnett, apart from the supposition that he came from the Fort Worth area of Texas. A pianist whose style encompassed boogie-woogie and ragtime, he recorded eight sides between 1929 and 1930, featuring vocals by James Wiggins (himself a highly talented blues pianist) and Marie Griffin. Two of his Paramount Records sides were recorded with Wiggins in Richmond, VA in October of 1929.
Blind Leroy Garnett – “Louisiana Glide“ (play/download mp3)
“I Wonder” was pre-war pianist and blues singer Cecil Gant’s first single. Released on Oakland’s Gilt-Edge Records, “I Wonder” is a romantic pop-tinged ballad which topped the R&B charts despite a wartime shellac shortage that hit tiny independent companies like Gilt-Edge particularly hard. Grab a glass of wine, cozy up with your lover, and let the beautiful voice of Cecil Gant remind you of what’s really important in life.
Cecil Gant – “I Wonder“ (play/download mp3)
Also known as: “The King of Ragtime Guitar,” Blind Blake’s ability to play the guitar in a fashion that sounds much like the ragtime piano is truly a talent he is best known for. His amazing vocals are present in “Early Morning Blues” as you can hear his ability to drag out his words in beautiful manner. You can also hear his knack for strumming the guitar like a piano in this number while his voice gently relieves the tension in the air and creates a soothing atmosphere. Together his vocals and guitar skills creates a unique sound that doesn’t come around easily but is definitely enjoyed greatly when heard.
Blind Blake “Early Morning Blues“ (play/download mp3)
Ida Cox was perhaps one of the most successful blues women of the early twentieth-century. She was known as the ‘Uncrowned Queen of the Blues’. Not only did she work her way through the early blues circuit to become a headliner, but she also reached a different level of fame by becoming a successful vaudeville performer. With her elegant voice and strong vocals you get a sense for her strength, “Mojo Hand Blues” is a love song about loving and keeping a man, but whereas other singers might allude to being unworthy, Ida makes sure to let us know that a gal like her “is mighty hard to find.”
Ida Cox – “Mojo Hand Blues“ (play/download mp3)
The Mississippi Sheiks were a popular fiddle and guitar group in the 1930s. There is no denying their influence on early rock n’ roll when you listen to the track, “Crazy bout her Lovin’.” Although the Sheiks were well loved, there was some notoriety in the early days, since their songs had many sexual innuendos peppered throughout their lyrics. “Crazy bout her Lovin’” is a toe tapping example of their talent.
Mississippi Sheiks – She’s Crazy ’bout Her Lovin’ (play/download mp3)