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Now, the backwater has been dreadful . . . - Walter Davis, West Coast Blues

Author Topic: How did that get recorded?  (Read 8117 times)

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Offline eric

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Re: How did that get recorded?
« Reply #45 on: November 10, 2018, 07:07:12 AM »
That's some Yanni-level keyboard skill right there...
--
Eric

Offline Johnm

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Re: How did that get recorded?
« Reply #46 on: November 10, 2018, 09:42:49 AM »
Hi all,
I merged the posts on John Lee Hooker's "It Hurts Me So" with the inexplicable organ playing into this thread, since they seemed to fit better here than with a discussion of "Key To The Highway" and 8-bar blues.  That organ entrance is really one for the books.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: How did that get recorded?
« Reply #47 on: November 10, 2018, 12:31:25 PM »
Josh White made some strange musical choices during the second half of his career. Here's one of them.


Offline alyoung

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Re: How did that get recorded?
« Reply #48 on: November 11, 2018, 02:49:56 AM »
Great God almighty .... the guilty party is Sam Gary, bass singer with Joshua White and His Carolinians, who made two Columbia sessions in mid-1940; I suspect these were aimed at a paler market than White's earlier recordings. Wanna hear more Sam Gary? This'll be good for y'all ....


Offline Lignite

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Re: How did that get recorded?
« Reply #49 on: November 11, 2018, 07:07:48 AM »
I think It's kind of neat and ahead of it's time or at least interesting. Its just citifying some old Carolina blues and possibly shows how blues as well as gospel may have been an  influence on Doo Wop which developed much later. I think the Chain Gang Songs on Columbia are very effective and were quite influential in their day. Anybody ever hear the old Folkways album where Sonny and Brownie added bass singer Coyal McMahan to their sound? (God, he even played maracas too!) It was kind of the same idea; adding a trained bass voice to a fairly authentic act. That one used to bug me when I was younger.

Offline Rivers

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Re: How did that get recorded?
« Reply #50 on: November 11, 2018, 10:14:00 PM »
Thanks guys. I really like the a capella recording, and can understand how Josh White would want to try including that fine voice into the session. It doesn't happen to work on the Married Woman recording I posted due to genre clash, but it is, as you say, interesting nonetheless.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2018, 10:22:45 PM by Rivers »

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: How did that get recorded?
« Reply #51 on: December 15, 2018, 11:57:01 AM »
I've been reading Elijah Wald's fine biography Josh White, Society Blues the sessions listed in Blues and Gospel Records and the illustrated discography of Stefan Wirtz. B&GR notes before Josh\s March 1940 session:

Quote from: B&GR
From this point Josh White's recordings changed in character as they became increasingly targetted at a wider audience.

The break cam in 1936 when Josh badly damaged his hand. Over the next 3-4 years he took time to recover his guitar technique. And he observed changes in the Black recording market, as well as new niches in the White market.

Most importantly for him and Sam Gary was their meeting in the show John Henry which tried to base itself on Black folklore ? which is where Blues was supposed to belong. The star was Paul Robeson and Josh had an important role as Blind Lemon a wandering blues singer. So Josh and Sam were introduced to a new audience and three significant individuals.

The audience were fans of jazz (particularly the simpler forms) and its supposed origins. They were relatively affluent and politically liberal if not out-and-out socialist. Understandably, few of them could afford to be Black.

The first significant individual was Leornard De Paur, the musical director of John Henry with a background in arranging for and conducting choirs of trained singers in the old concert spiritual tradition. Josh engaged him to take a foursome consisting of him and brother Bill with Sam and a future civil rights leader, Bayard Rustin, and turn them into a gospel quartet. They became Josh White and his Carolinians

Another individual was John Hammond, who had organised the Spirituals to Swing concert and was keen to put on record musicians who would advance his vision of the roots of Jazz. Josh ? with and without the Carolinians ? was just what he  needed.

The third individual was Alan Lomax the folk music collector with a mission to bring the music to 'the people'. In Wald's analysis Lomax went as far as he could with authentic performers like Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, and then turned to more polished singers with more tenuous folky connections ? Burl Ives for White Folk Music and Josh for Black. So Josh was recruited to sing with the Golden Gate Quartet and others at a 1940 concert organised at the White House by Lomax and Eleanore Roosevelt.

The concert was recorded  for the Library of Congress and was archived, not released. But Josh's commercial recording career began ? much according to John Hammond's agenda. The first records were issued on the jazz label Blue Note (with Sidney Bechet) and the educationally-minded Musicraft as themed albums ? literally books like photo albums into which 78's were inserted. One of the albums was Chain Gang with Sam and the rest of the Carolinians singing.

The next album Josh sang on was the Almanac Singers' Ballad For John Doe ? appallingly timed with its left-wing anti-war message just as Stalin was forced to join the War on our side, dragging the American left with him.

She's A Married Woman was recorded between these album sessions. Again, it was with jazz musicians (Edmond Hall and Israel Crosby). Josh brought  along his now best buddy Sam ? they would stay friends for life, singing and playing together when they could ? even though the songs were not like the Carolinians' repertoire. One or both of them must have made the connection between the phrase Great God Almighty and the stuff they usually did together. 'What a good idea!' they thought ? except that it wasn't.

If you think She's A Married Woman is a mismatch of styles, listen to what Josh recorded shortly after with  Libby Holman. Having been a successful torch singer and notorious scarlet woman, Holman tried to re-invent herself across the racial divide as a politically-informed blues singer. So she hired Josh to teach her. I  think she could have made a decent copyist of her Black heroines, but she felt it was more sincere to keep something of her old style. Oh dear!

From their first album (Yes, another three-disc album) Blues Till Dawn, here's Baby, Baby ?based, presumably, on See See Rider:



Brownie McGhee has the last word on Josh White in 1942. Still based in Greenville, he made a trip to Washington to do  a show with Sonny Terry. From Elijah Wald:

Quote from:  Josh White, Society Blues
Brownie McGhee ... says that after the gig all the important folk people came over and told him that he had to move to New York because "they didn't have any blues singers up there; that Josh White was the only one, and he'd gone white." McGhee laughingly adds that when he got to New York and met Josh, "when i saw how much money he was making, I said, 'Hey, show me how to go white too.''"

PS
Stefan Wirtz also has a discography of Sam Gary.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 12:14:53 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Rivers

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Re: How did that get recorded?
« Reply #52 on: December 15, 2018, 12:21:10 PM »
Since you're reading Society Blues you may find this thread interesting.