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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



‘Down hearted Blues’

Original Recordings 1921-1924

Naxos Jazz Legends 8.120660




  1. Downhearted Blues
  2. Gulf Coast blues
  3. ‘T Ain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do
  4. Keeps On A-Rainin’
  5. Yodling Blues
  6. Bleeding Heart Blues
  7. Lady Luck Blues
  8. If You Don’t I Know Who Will
  9. Nobody In Town cab Make A Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine
  10. Jail House Blues
  11. Graveyard Dream Blues
  12. Cemetery Blues
  13. Any Woman’s Blues
  14. Mistreatin’ Daddy
  15. Easy Come, Easy Go Blues
  16. Moonshine Blues
  17. Boweavil Blues
  18. Hateful Blues.

She made life amusing, serious, witty and devastatingly depressing and she sang without compromise, for people who were honest enough to realise that life is like that. Spike Hughes – Melody Maker 1937

Bessie’s control of her voice is without parallel: a subtle accent on one syllable could change the entire meaning of a line. Her sense of pitch was as dramatic as it was accurate. George Avakian

These two quotations taken from the record sleeve pretty well sum up the work of Bessie Smith. She had a huge voice, much bigger than most men and an immediately identifiable delivery. Naxos really has worked a miracle in bringing these recordings made in 1923/4 to listenable quality. Most of the tracks are of Bessie singing with piano accompaniment and for me, despite the unique quality of her voice, this is just too much of a good thing. I am sure many purists will disagree and I feel certain that they are the people that this album is aimed at.

It must be some time since some of these tracks have been commercially available and for those who regard her as the only real female jazz vocalist; this album is definitely for you!

Don Mather

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