Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

119

Scrapper Blackwell: Mr. Scrapper's Blues

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
As one half of what was the easily most popular blues team of the Pre-War era, Scrapper Blackwell tasted the fruits of fame and fortune early in his career. His partnership with pianist/vocalist Leroy Carr turned in more ‘race record’ hits for Vocalion than any other act in the label’s talent stable. Sadly the duo’s relationship, both professional and personal, eventually soured when the dual sins of hard liquor and hard living caught up with them. They consigned Carr to the coroner and forced Blackwell to hit the bricks in search of work after a brief and ultimately fizzled solo stint with Bluebird. A quarter century passed until this gig for the Prestige subsidiary Bluesville marked another brief, but welcome return to the recording arena.

Taped at Rudy Van Gelder’s Englewood Cliffs studio, there is a surprisingly coarse edge to the session that works well with Blackwell’s rough, unadorned style. His picking chops are largely intact and his stentorian strums ring out with a healthy immediacy on such standard melancholy fare as “Blues Before Sunrise” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” Whether he’s singing a humorous retooling of the old nursery rhyme “Little Boy Blue’ or recounting the bleak existence of life lived in the wardrobe of prison grays (“Penal Farm Blues”), his skillful fretwork frames each tune with a perimeter of dynamically placed chords. The two instrumental blues (each named for its respective root key) offer the most telling evidence of his sustained prowess. His hoarse, world-weary voice suggests the most noticeable toll the years had taken on his sound. Gone is the cocksure inflection inherent in his youthful sides cut for Bluebird. In its place is the mature depth and resignation of a man who’s survived a litany of hard times.

“Little Girl Blues” and “Shady Lane” give Blackwell’s piano abilities some purchase and he shows himself a competent, if not particularly adventurous practitioner. As a swan song for one of the most instrumental figures in early blues, this Prestige date is a model of both taste and distinction. Recorded when Blackwell’s powers were still up to par, it stands in strong contrast to the trend that exists today where artists far past their prime are still encouraged to retread tired material as the tapes roll on.

Bluesville on the web: http://www.fantasyjazz.com


Track Listing: Goin

Personnel: Francis

Title: Mr. Scrapper's Blues | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Bluesville


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Ugly Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "All You Gotta Do" CD/LP/Track Review All You Gotta Do
by Doug Collette
Published: September 16, 2017
Read "El Bosque Brillante" CD/LP/Track Review El Bosque Brillante
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "I Am A Man" CD/LP/Track Review I Am A Man
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 27, 2017
Read "Lyn Stanley – The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Lyn Stanley – The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 2
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 12, 2017
Read "The Catfish" CD/LP/Track Review The Catfish
by Chris Mosey
Published: February 15, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!