241

Clarence Williams: Washboard Bands: 1926-29, "Gimme Blues"

Andrew J. Sammut By

Sign in to view read count
Clarence Williams: Washboard Bands: 1926-29, "Gimme Blues" New Orleans native and musical jack-of-all-trades Clarence Williams enjoyed success on multiple levels of the music business, with washboard ensembles just one part of his extensive discography. Even without the timbral variety of a full drum set, the washboard crafts simple but effective rhythms. A chattering backbeat on "Wait 'Till You See My Baby Do The Charleston" opens the disc with driving clarinet and the leader's piano chimes never pining for cymbals or skins. "You For Me, Me For You" stomps with an irresistible groove, while "Whoop It Up" struts like a hot summer parade.

Three different washboarders each play in their own unique style: Floyd Casey is easygoing and stays in the background, while Jasper Taylor scrapes and taps with agitated, extroverted flash. Taylor's sudden switch to a rigid march beat on "I've Found A New Baby" also reveals a sense of humor, and Bruce Johnson arranges several percussive textures for "Dark Eyes."

Ed Allen plays heroic lead over this household percussion. His big, warm cornet is soaked in the blues and crisply captured by Frog's engineers. "Livin' High" and "My Own Blues" are just two examples of Allen's soulful, straightforward melodicism throughout this album. Yet his rhythmically liberated lines on "I've Found A New Baby" scorch, and "Nobody But My Baby Is Gettin' My Love" showcases his smoldering wah- wah technique. Allen's sadly neglected, pre-Louis Armstrong horn may lack the trumpet icon's imagination, but still warrants greater attention.

Bennie Morton's ebullient clarinet skips alongside Allen on most tracks, with obscure Puerto Rican reedman Carmello Jari taking his place for four sides. Four tracks feature an unknown cornetist and clarinetist on more arranged, commercially oriented tunes. Brief vocals, ranging from Armstrong-inspired scatting to operetta imitations, usually last just one chorus and never get in the way.

Williams plays piano on all 26 tracks, and while he could never compete with contemporaries such as Earl Hines or James P. Johnson, he accompanies with steady time and solid harmonies. Williams also knew how to direct his music and musicians towards a variety of ends. "Cushion Foot Stomp," a Williams original recorded numerous times throughout his career, is heard here first as a spacious drag, and then revisited with a more cutting feel on top of Cyrus St. Clair's tuba. An alternate take of "Wait 'Till You See My Baby..." also demonstrates Williams' ingenuity with repeated material.

The sound of a washboard might spark images of red suspenders and straw hats, yet this collection eschews nostalgia. Frog simply (and beautifully) presents early jazz artists using an unusual instrument to make music; in other words, jazz musicians creating with an open mind just as they do today.


Track Listing: Wait Till You See My Baby Do The Charleston; Livin' High; Wait Till You See My Baby Do The Charleston #3; You For Me, Me For You; My Own Blues; Boodle Am #4; Boodle Am #7; I've Found A New Baby; Senorita Mine; Charleston Hound; How Could I Be Blue?; Old Folks Shuffle #2; Old Folks Shuffle #3; Dark Eyes; Gimme Blues; King Of The Zulus; The Zulu Blues; Nobody But My Baby Is Gettin' My Love; Candy Lips; Anywhere Sweetie Goes #4; Cushion Foot Stomp #3; Cushion Foot Stomp; Take Your Black Bottom Outside; High Society; High Society #C; Whoop It Up.

Personnel: Clarence Williams: piano, vocal (19, 22, 23); Ed Allen: cornet (1-13, 18-26); Bennie Morton: clarinet (1-13, 18-19), alto sax (8-10); Carmello Jari: clarinet, alto sax (20-23); Jasper Taylor: washboard (1-13); Bruce Johnson: washboard (14-17); Floyd Casey: washboard (18-26); Clarence Todd: vocal (4-8,11,14-16); Clarence Lee: vocal (20, 21); Cyrus St. Clair: tuba (22,23); Unknown: cornet (14-17); Unknown: clarinet (14-17, 24-26); Unknown: trombone, banjo, tom-tom (16, 17).

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Frog Records


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "In Denmark 1959-1960" CD/LP/Track Review In Denmark 1959-1960
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 7, 2016
Read "Fe" CD/LP/Track Review Fe
by James Nadal
Published: August 30, 2016
Read "Live in Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Concert
by David Becker
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Aziza" CD/LP/Track Review Aziza
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 19, 2016
Read "How to Build a City" CD/LP/Track Review How to Build a City
by Jim Olin
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "ScratchBop" CD/LP/Track Review ScratchBop
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 28, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!