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Nonsense is nonsense. But the history of nonsense is scholarship - Saul Lieberman to an audience at Jewish Theological Seminary, introducing a lecture on the Kabbalah by Gerhard Scholem, sometime in the 1940s. Quoted by Cynthia Ozick, "The Heretic," New Yorker, 9/2/2002, p. 145

Author Topic: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths  (Read 20013 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2004, 02:05:34 PM »
Hi all,
I came across a 12-bar blues today that falls in this category, and I can't think of any other songs that follow its form.  It is "Black Dog Blues" by the hillbilly artist Bayless Rose, and it works as follows:
   | III7 | III7 |  VI7 |  VI7 |
   |  II7 |  II7 |   V7 |   V7 |
   |   I   |   I  | I(V7)|   I    |
Rose plays it in G.  It's a pretty cool sound to have a G blues starting out on a B7 chord.  I used to think Rose might be Dick Justice recording under a pseudonym, but he does sound like a different person, although perhaps from the same part of the world.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2005, 05:35:58 PM »
Hi all,
I was just looking through these old topics and thought of a tune in this category that takes the sophistication to a completely different level:  Leroy Carr's "Longing For My Sugar".  It is an exceptionally pretty tune on which he is joined by both Scrapper Blackwell and Josh White, and it appeared on the old Yazoo compilation of Leroy and Scrapper, "Naptown Blues", Yazoo L1036. 

Right from its intro, the song lets you know it means business.  It is in Bflat, and begins with this complex turn-around:
|   B flat      |   D7   |    Eflat       |E diminished7 | 
|Bflat/F-G7| C7-F7 |Bflat Bflat/Aflat Eflat/G Aflat9/Gflat|Bflat/F--F7|
Once the full form starts, you realize it is a 12-bar blues, but utilizing a much different harmonic vocabulary than you normally encounter in its era.  It goes:
| B flat    | D7  |   G  minor  |  B flat7   |
| E flat    |   E dim 7 |  B flat/F  |  G 7   |
|C 7 |F7|Bflat-Bflat/Aflat-Eflat/G-Aflat9/Gflat|Bflat/F-F7|
The four chords in the eleventh bar each get one beat, and provide the same descending bass line that Robert Johnson used in his famous turn-around on his "A" tunes, like "Me and the Devil", or "Kind-Hearted Woman".  Leroy similarly keeps the I note, Bflat, ringing in the treble over the entire descending line.

If you look at how "Longing For My Sugar" moves from one chord to the next, it is exceptionally nifty.  When  Leroy goes from B flat to D7 in the second bar, he sets up a V-I resolution into G minor, the relative minor of B flat major--it is surprising, beautiful and natural all at the same time.  Just as quickly, though, he goes from G minor to Bflat 7, setting up a V-I resultion into E flat, the IV chord of B flat, with it falling in the fifth bar of the form where you always go to the IV chord anyway.  The E diminished 7 chord is used as a linking chord and to get the chromatically ascending bass line from E flat to E, continuing on up to F, though that note happens under the Bflat chord in the seventh bar.  By continuing on up from Bflat/F to G7 in the eighth bar, Leroy starts the circle of fifths progression that is eventually going to get him home, since G7 is the VI 7 chord of B flat.  Sure enough, he resolves the G 7 (VI 7) to C7 (II7), then to F7 (V7), and finally back to I, immediately beginning the descending bass line turn-around that will take him to the V7 chord that points him back to the beginning of the form.

Another really cool thing about the progression is the opportunities for melodic/linear movement it presents as you move from one chord to the next.  Josh White picks right up on this, going from F over the initial Bflat chord, to F# over the D7 chord to G over the G minor chord to Aflat over the B flat 7 chord.  Go Josh!  It takes big ears to pick up on those kind of possibilities.  This progression abounds with them, though.

I don't really see "Longing For My Sugar" as being Raggy--it is much more Jazzy, a distinction Frank made earlier in this thread.  Indeed, it anticipates a lot of the harmonic innovations Charlie Parker was to bring to the blues in the Bebop Era.  Here is a numerical version of the progression, for those of you who might like to transpose it to a more guitar-friendly key than B flat.
|  I   | III7  |  VI minor  |  I7   |
|  IV  | #IV dim7 |  I/V  |  VI7 |
| II7  | V7  | I-I/flatVII-IV/VI-flatVII/flatVI|I/V--V7|

I hope you can request this tune on the Juke, or perhaps someone can post an mp3 of it.  It's a great one.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 23, 2006, 03:24:33 PM by Johnm »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2005, 06:39:34 PM »
Not only is this a really cool progression John, and it's great that you are bringing piano tunes into the mix for those of us branching out into our own arrangements, but the idea that Josh White played with Leroy Carr and Scrapper is a shocker to me, Not only do I think of them from disparate areas (i.e. seperated by the Appalachians) but I also (I guess, erroneously) put them in somewhat different time frames. What is the place and date of the recording, if you happen to know. I realize Yazoo isn't always forthcoming with discography info. I'm guessing New York, but I would have thought Josh was still acting as somebody's lead boy when Leroy passed. But from what you say, he was pretty sophisticated at this point.
Thanks.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline Johnm

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2005, 07:33:21 PM »
Hi John C.,
The track is from 1934, I believe, and Josh was plenty sophisticated at that point. Truthfully, I think the cut would be stronger with only Josh playing on it. Scrapper sounds a bit out of his element with this type of progression, where as Josh sounds perfectly comfortable. I don't think Josh was anybody's lead boy after Joe Taggart, and I think Joe passed pretty early on, at a point in which Josh had already gone out on his own.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 28, 2019, 06:46:00 AM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2005, 04:00:07 AM »
Longing For My Sugar was recorded Monday, December 17th, 1934 in New York City.  It was the second day of a three day session.  There were 23 different songs recorded at that session, 10 of them featuring both Scrapper Blackwell and Josh White on guitar.  It was Leroy Carr's penultimate session.

Offline thumbstyle

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2005, 11:17:01 AM »
Wow, great description of a nice progression, John. 

For that turnaround |Bflat-Bflat/Aflat-Eflat/G-Aflat9/Gflat| Bflat/F ... I've been playing these shapes:

x_x_8_7_6_6   x_x_6_7_6_6  x_10_8_8_11_x   x_9_10_8_11_x  x_8_8_7_6_6

to keep the descending line in the bass and the Bb on top. With my small hands I find it difficult to play that "Robert Johnson" figure out of the long-Bflat position. Still, it's a bit of a handful. Any thoughts on a better way to do it?

Cheers,
Dave

Offline Johnm

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2005, 12:12:21 PM »
Hi Dave,
It looks like your version has been transposed to C, am I right?? (Whoops, read your first chord diagram backwards--you're in Bflat of course.)? Here goes:?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Bflat:? X-X-8-7-6-6
?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Bflat/Aflat:? X-X-6-7-6-6?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Eflat/G:? X-X-5-3-4-6
?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Aflat9/Gflat:?X-X-4-5-4-6
I think these piano-y-sounding voicings sound so great on the guitar.?
All best,
Johnm
Edited to add:? I realized after I posted this that there is a slightly niftier and more uptown substitution for the third chord in the walk-down.? It is Eflat6/G and it is voiced:
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ??Eflat6/G:? X-X-5-5-4-6
The difference is pretty subtle, but I think it leads better.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2005, 10:30:16 AM by Johnm »

Offline thumbstyle

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2005, 07:18:29 PM »
Thanks John,

Actually, no, I'm still trying to play it in Bflat. I start off with your voicings for Bflat and Bflat/Aflat, then move over to the 5th thru 2nd strings starting with the Eflat/G (and move the Bflat in the treble to 2nd string/11th fret) to try to reduce the stretch on my vienna sausages.  :)

In any case, I like your version with the Eflat6/G - smoove, baby! (And easier to play -- a bonus).

Dave

Offline Buzz

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2005, 12:54:07 PM »
Sorry this comes on line so late after the thread is trailing off, but having some computer problems of late. Fixed for now!

Longin' for my Sugar is one of my favorite tunes. John M brought it, taught it at PT a few summers ago, (maybe 4 ?), and I fell in love with it, and play it still. The chord progression is beautiful, very melodic/graceful/harmonic/all of that to me, evokes the sentiment of the lyrics well. Love to study it with all this description and commentary, really 'fleshes it out' for me.Thanks to all of you.
Buzz :D
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline Johnm

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #24 on: July 05, 2005, 08:23:06 AM »
Hi all,
One player who excelled at circle of fifths progressions was Bo Carter, and Bo was also innovative in using what might be called a "Pop Blues" format for a number of his songs, so-called because they share the 32-bar, AABA structure common to most pop songs coming out of Tin Pan Alley in Bo's era.
One of Bo's prettiest tunes in this style is "I Get The Blues", which he played in his G tuning, DGDGBE, on a wood guitar instead of the National he normally used.? He plays the song in the key of G with a D shape at the seventh fret as his home position.? The progression is as follows:
A1:? |? ? ? ?I? ? ? ?|? ? ? ?I? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?VI7? ? ? ?|? ? ? ?VI7? ? ? |
? ? ? ?|? ? ?II7? ? ? |? ? ? V7? ? ? |? ? ? I/IV7? ? ?|? ? ? ?I/V7? ? ? |
A2:? |? ? ? ?I? ? ? ?|? ? ? ?I? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? VI7? ? ? |? ? ? ? VI7? ? ? |
? ? ? ?|? ? ? II7? ? ?|? ? ? ?II7? ? ?|? ? ? ? ?V? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ?V7? ? ? |
B:? ? |? ? ? I? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? I? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ?I7? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ?I7? ? ? ? |
? ? ? ?|? ? ?IV7? ? ?|? ? ? IV7? ? |? ? ? ? IV7? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ?IV7? ? |
A3:? |? ? ? ?I? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? I? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ?VI7? ? ?|? ? ? ? ?VI7? ? ?|
? ? ? ?|? ? ? II7? ? ?|? ? ? ?V7? ? ?|? ? ?I/IV7? ? ? ?|? ? ? I/V7? ? ? |
With the exception of the IV7 chord, which is fingered? XXX986, Bo plays everything else out of the long A or A7 positions and D or D7 positions.? For a song with as active a progression as "I Get The Blues" has, the left hand sits surprisingly easily.? That having been said, Bo spins a ton of variations in the course of the performance, and has some difficult stuff going on like two-note slides in which the distance between the notes changes during the course of the slide.?
One interesting aspect of the performance is that Bo is not overly scrupulous about hitting chord tones in the bass as he moves through the progression; quite often as he is playing the VI7 chord, E7, he is hitting the open fifth string, G, in the bass and the contrast between that G note in the bass and the G# in the E7 chord up the neck can be a little rasty.? I think that maybe for Bo, as for Mance Lipscomb and many other players, the time-keeping function of the notes the right hand thumb hits is more important than their pitch.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 06, 2005, 03:51:01 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2005, 11:57:26 PM »
Hi all,
One song I have been listening to lately that would certainly fall into this category is the old Pink Anderson & Simmie Dooley number, "Gonna Tip Out Tonight".? It has been re-issued several times and has come out again recently on the great Old Hat set, "Good For What Ails You--Music of the Medicine Shows 1926--1937".?
On the song, both Anderson and Dooley are playing out of G position in standard tuning.? Dooley, one of the small group of guitarists whom Rev. Davis spoke well of, sounds as though he might be flat-picking.? Dooley handles the vocal lead, and his wide vibrato seems like it might place him in the Frank Stokes generation.?
The song has an unusually complex form:? an 8-bar intro on which Dooley plays a never-to-return kazoo, followed by a 16-bar verse, sung and repeated, with two sets of lyrics, an 8-bar segue that resolves into the 36-bar chorus, complete with first and second endings.? Whew!
Here is the bar structure and progression for the song:

INTRO:
? ?|? ? ? ?G? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? E7? ? ? |? ? ? E7? ? ?|
? ?|? A7? ? ?D7? ?|? ?G? ? ? ? ?E7? ?|? ?A7? ? D7? |? ? ?G? ? ? ?|

VERSE:
? ?||:? ? ? G? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ? ?G? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ?E7? ? ? |? ? ? ?E7? ? |
? ?|? ? ? ?G? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?E7? ? ? ?|? ? ? E7? ? ?|
? ?|? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?A7? ? ? |? ? ? ?D7? ? |
? ?|? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? G? ? ?:||

SEGUE:
? ?|? ? ? ? A7? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? A7? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? D? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? D? ? ?|
? ?|? ? ? ? D? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? ?D? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? F#? ? ? ?|? ? ? ?F#? ? |

CHORUS:
? ?||:? ? ? ?E? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ? E? ? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ?E? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?E? ? ? |
? ? |? ? ? ?E? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ? E? ? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ?E? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?E? ? ? |
1st Ending:
? ?|? ? ? ? D? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? ?D? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ?D? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?D? ? ? |
? ?|? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? ?G? ? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ?G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?G? ? :||
2nd Ending:
? ?|? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? ?G? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?G? ? ? |
? ?|? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ? ? ?G? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ? D? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?G? ? ? |
? ?|? ? ? ?A7? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ?D7? ? ? ? ?|? ? ? ? ? G? ? ? ? |? ? ? ?G? ? ? ||

For the most part, the progression is not too surprising, following conventions of ragtimey circle-of-fifths progressions as they are often encountered.? The segue, though, and the transition into the chorus is kind of a shocker, even if you've heard the song many times before.? In functional harmony, the last chord in the segue preceding the chorus should be a B7 chord since it is the V7 of the E chord the chorus starts on and would lead into the E chord very naturally.? The F# chord Anderson and Dooley play instead is a real surprise.? I believe the basis for its selection is that the melody note being sung over the top of it is an F# note, and that the musicians assumed that the most fitting chord to back that note would be one that employed it as a root.? We've encountered this kind of harmonization before in Sam Collins, Leadbelly, Andrew and Jim Baxter and others, and it is discussed in the "Harmony/Hearing Chord Changes" thread on the Main Forum.? Whether or not that was the reason for choosing the F# chord to back the melody at that point, the effect is electrifying, and really sets off the beginning of the chorus, where Pink joins in the singing and the energy level goes up perceptibly.? And like many passages in this music that sound strange at first hearing, repeated listening makes it seem like the only correct choice.
Here are the lyrics for "Gonna Tip Out Tonight":

? ?Gee, I'm feeling mighty lonesome
? ?Gee, I'm feeling mighty homesome [!]
? ?My girl quit me and I don't know what to do
? ?She even told me from the start
? ?If I'd go I would break her heart
? ?Every time I think about it makes me feel so blue.

? ?This morning I receive a note,
? ?And this was the answer I wrote, said,

? ?(CHORUS)
? ?"Go on, girl, don't sing them blues to me
? ?I'm just as sweet as any man can be.", she
? ?Even told me to my face that
? ?Any old rounder sure can take my place, said
? ?"I'm gettin' tired of your low-down ways,
? ?I'm goin' back to my baby day, so
? ?Go on, girl, honey, you can't bluff, I'm gonna
? ?Tip out tonight and I'm gonna strut my stuff, I mean
? ?I'm gonna strut my stuff."

It occurred to me as I was typing out the lyrics that this song could just as easily been recorded by the Carolina Tar Heels.? They did a lot of material like this, and it would have suited them very well.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 02, 2006, 06:04:24 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #26 on: February 24, 2006, 03:05:20 PM »
Hi all,
I found a great song that fits this thread perfectly though it also could go in the Blues in F thread.  It is on an old Historical Records LP called "Rare Blues, vol.5" that I recently borrowed.  The song is "The Gin Done Done It", and it is performed by Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie, about whom I know exactly nothing, though the album does say they were Socks Wilson and Harry McDaniel, and that McDaniel played the guitar.  The cut was recorded in New York City on July 18, 1929.

The song is played in F position in standard tuning and McDaniels employs a very suave flat-picking technique, combining full chordal strumming with runs linking the chords.  It is a style that in the present day Blues revivalist world has no practitioners that I have heard.  Moreover, McDaniels is very adroit; he actually sounds more like some of the slick Old Time guitarists like Roy Harvey, Norman Woodlieff, and Alfred Steagall in the way that he negotiates playing in F, than he does like such blues guitarists as Luke Jordan, William Moore or Blind Blake.  "The Gin Done Done It" is a 12-bar blues, though it lacks the stereotyped down feeling normally expected of the Blues.  The progression works so:

   |  F--C7   |   F--C7   |   F--C7   |   F7    |
   |   Bflat   |   Bflat    |   Bflat    |   F/A   |
   |   C7      |    C7      |  G7--C7  | F-(C7)|

This is a wonderful performance.  The two singers sound like seasoned professionals, and the rueful tone of bogus repentance is really rich.  Both song and performance sound like they come out of the same millieu as the songs of Sloppy Henry--clever lyrics, great delivery and pretty irresistible entertainment.  I may teach this one at Port Townsend this summer.

   Goin' to take my gal to a social dance, but I didn't have no seat in my pants
   Give me four dollars, take me in, I took the four dollars and I bought some gin
   CHORUS:  The gin done done it, all doggone it, the gin made a fool outa me

   I tore my hair and I walked the street, I wanted to whip everyone I meet
   'Long came John, who's my best friend, cut his head 'til it was a sin
   CHORUS

   I shot some craps to my disgrace, I run everybody out the place
   Dice was loaded, made me sore, I left four hustlers lyin' on the floor
   CHORUS

   I went to church to do the Holy roll, grabbed me a sister to convert her soul
   Two minutes later the preacher came in, she stopped rollin' with me, started rollin' with him
   CHORUS

   I took my cow to the doctor man, somethin' 'bout her I couldn't understand
   I milked her good, 'bout half past ten, didn't give nothin' but a bucket of gin
   CHORUS

   I tore up all my gal's good clothes, didn't mean to do it, the good Lord knows,
   My landlady is a good old soul, I even took some of her sweet jelly roll
   CHORUS

   I went downtown 'bout half past four, stole two hot dogs from a butcher's store
   Got locked up, the judge, he said, "Take six months to clear your head."
   CHORUS

   The jailhouse step was slick as glass, I tried to run away got shot in the
   Yes, I told my gal, to bring me beer, get some money if she had to sell a little coal
   CHORUS

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: February 24, 2006, 11:56:01 PM by Johnm »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #27 on: February 24, 2006, 06:36:45 PM »
Hi John:

While doing the usual search for "The Gin Done Done It" after reading your post, I ran across the following page--a listing of the Columbia 14000D series:

http://settlet.fateback.com/COL14000D.htm

Some of the titles are fascinating, such as "Get Your Mind Out Of The Gutter," also by Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie. Both tunes appear to be on Document 5564 "Coot Grant & Kid Wilson: Complete Works V.2 1928-1931."

Roy Book Binder does a version of "The Gin Done Done It" on "Bookeroo."

One things leads to another...(especially on the web). I don't know whether to take the name of the second tune ("Get Your Mind...") as just a catchy song title or as a personal admonition--but why take any chances?--In my case it's probably both!

My Best,

Stu

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #28 on: February 25, 2006, 12:08:40 AM »
Some of the titles are fascinating, such as "Get Your Mind Out Of The Gutter," also by Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie. Both tunes appear to be on Document 5564 "Coot Grant & Kid Wilson: Complete Works V.2 1928-1931."
Coot Grant & Kid Wilson were a popular vaudeville husband and wife in the mould of Butterbeans and Susie. Coot Grant was actually Leola B Wilson (better known for her recordings with Blind Blake) and Wilson was Kid Wesley Wilson - confusing ain't it? But it gets worse, the Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie were actually Wesley Wilson and Harry McDaniels, as stated on the sleeve of that LP.

What I used to amuse me about that series of compilations were the quotes from notable jazz citics of the time (1965-6) thus:

"For the collector of jazz recordings, these are the best of times; the collector's whims have never been catered to quite as extensively as they are at this moment. He has his choice of a steady flow of recordings of new performances, which range in style from piano rags and early New Orleans ensembles to the most whimsical furies of the avant gardists - a spectrum broader than jazz has ever known before. And at the same time the opportunities to fill in past gaps in his collection - or simply to start collecting - are unprecedented." (John S Wilson, New York Times)

Offline Stuart

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Re: Rag Blues and Circle of 5ths
« Reply #29 on: February 25, 2006, 05:49:07 AM »
Hi Bunker Hill:

Thanks for providing the additional info and helping to sort this out. Without access to any of the original recordings or information about the recordings or the artists, it's difficult to be clear with respect to who the artists were and what the various versions of the songs sound like. I'm looking forward to actually listening to them some day.

Thanks again,

Stu

 


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