Posts Tagged ‘Oscar Moore’

Lookin’ At July 20

Friday, July 20th, 2018

So what do we have on the digital shelves that was recorded on July 20?

The three members of the Mississippi Jook Band had a busy day eighty-two years ago in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The band – made up of Blind Roosevelt Graves on guitar, his brother Uaroy Graves (who was almost blind himself) on tambourine, and Cooney Vaughn on piano – recorded four tracks that day. All of them were released on the Melotone label, and three of the four are on my digital shelves. All three came to me via the four-CD box set When The Levee Breaks, issued in 2000 by the British label JSP; one of the three was also released on the fourth volume of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, released in 2013.

The three tracks here are “Barbeque Bust,” “Hittin’ The Bottle Stomp,” and “Skippy Whippy.” The fourth track the trio recorded on that long-ago July 20 was “Dangerous Woman.”

Heading onward, we drop into a session in 1949, with Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers – augmented by guitarist Oscar Moore – recording “How Blue Can You Get (Downhearted)” in New York City. Fans of B.B. King or of the blues in general will recognize the song; this – according to the album notes – is the original version. The track was evidently not released until 1960, when it showed up on an RCA Camden compilation called Singin’ the Blues. I found the track on Volume 4, “That’s All Right,” of the thirteen-CD series When The Sun Goes Down, an extensive look at the deep roots of rock ’n’ roll.

Regular visitors here are no doubt aware of my fondness for the work of Big Maybelle, born Mabel Louise Smith in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1924. She pops up today because of her session in New York City on July 20, 1956, sixty years ago today. Among the tracks recorded that day was “Mean To Me,” which was released on the Savoy label. It came to me on the two-LP collection The Roots of Rock ’n Roll: The Savoy Sessions, which I bought for $1.25 during a record-digging session in Golden Valley, Minnesota, in April 1999. A CD version of the set arrived here in 2012 as a gift from friend and regular reader Yah Shure.

The traditional British folk song “Blackwaterside” shows up next, telling the tale of a woman seduced and then spurned. The song and several variants, including “Down by Blackwaterside” among others, are thought to have originated near the River Blackwater in Ulster. (One of those variants is the instrumental “Black Mountain Side” on Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut album.) Here, it’s a live 1983 performance by Linda Thompson for the (presumably British) television show Music On The Move. The track was included on the 1996 Hannibal compilation Dreams Fly Away (A History Of Linda Thompson).

Then we come to an entire CD recorded on July 20, 1991, when the trio of Rick Danko, Eric Andersen and Jonas Fjeld played a gig at the Molde Jazz Festival. The trio’s music is certainly not jazz and might be more accurately described as folk rock or roots or Americana with a slight Norwegian twist. However you describe it, their music is a delight. The live performance was released in 2002 on the Appleseed label as part of a two-CD package; the other CD was a remastered version of the trio’s 1991 release Danko/Fjeld/Andersen.

So now we sort these out. For all my historical interest in groups like the Mississippi Jook Band, I don’t listen much to those box sets. When the tunes come up when the RealPlayer is set on random, that’s fine, but I don’t often seek them out. So we’ll pass the Jook Band by. We’ll do the same, with some regrets, with Big Maybelle and Linda Thompson. And our regrets are greater when we pass on Danko/Fjeld/Andersen; their slender catalog has been among my favorites ever since I found their second album, Ridin’ On The Blinds. It was among the first CDs I ever bought.

But the work of Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, augmented by the guitar work of his brother Oscar, is too good to pass up, especially since the track is the original version of one of the classic blues songs. So here’s “How Blue Can You Get (Downhearted).”