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June 06, 2006



Timeless Records do a nice series of 3 CDs called (approx) "From Ragtime to Jazz". Odd and, I find, enjoyable. A bit later - 20s and 30s I think - there was "Western Swing", a jazz/C&W music that's less to my taste but obviously skilled music-making. Bessie Smith made many recordings with top-flight jazzmen. There's lots of lovely stuff available from before the era where popular music became mere toxic din for twelve-year-olds.


Bessie Smith is precisely the type of singer I had in mind. Listen to her and Jimmie Rodgers - is there a big difference? Then listen to her and Billie Holliday - again a small difference. The blues, jazz and country have similar roots. It's these that Jolie is exploring.


Aha, the Boswell sisters. New Orleans whites, with a childhood spent listening to Blues and Gospel: recorded with leading Jazzmen, very clever popular music/jazz. 1930s.


Thanks for the link. A 'strange, half-swallowed half-gurgle' indeed - speaking as a folkie, I wish I could gurgle like that.

Actually, I think part of what the guy is reacting against is a feature which her delivery shares with the really good unaccompanied folk singers - the words don't just hang off the melody like washing on a line, there's a constant rise and fall which is midway between conversational articulation and musical embellishment. (Needless to say, Billie Holliday and Bessie Smith had this quality too. Dylan had it too, but in a more emphatic, histrionic form, as if to say that the art was dead and he was the only person who could revive it.)

dave heasman

"as if to say that the art was dead and he was the only person who could revive it"

the only man, perhaps. Iris Dement & even Gillian Welch hark back over the years.

Actually, the review is even odder, because there really is a revival in all sorts of pre-WWII music at the moment. There are new vocal quartets doing old shaped-note arrangements, there are new technologies extracting real music off cylinders and old wax 80s, and it's being broadcast. Archeophon records is thriving.

(Western Swing, incidentally, really began with the rise of ampliification in the late 30s. Very difficult for a fiddle-led band to play to 2000 dancers unamplified)

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