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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Four Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 1057



Jimmy Rushing And The Smith Girls
1. Arkansas Blues
2. Down Hearted Blues
3. How Come You Do Me Like You Do
4. Crazy Blues
5. Squeeze Me
6. Trouble In Mind
7. Muddy Water
8. Gulf Coast Blues
9. Everybody Loves My Baby
10. Shipwrecked Blues
Jimmy Rushing - Vocals
Buck Clayton - Trumpet
Coleman Hawkins - Tenor sax
Buster Bailey - Clarinet
Dicky Wells - Trombone
Benny Morton - Trombone (tracks 1-5)
Claude Hopkins - Piano
Everett Barksdale - Guitar
Gene Ramey - Bass
Jimmy Crawford - Drums
The Jazz Odyssey Of James Rushing Esq.
11. New Orleans
12. Tricks Ain't Walkin' No More
13. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
14. Piney Brown Blues
15. `Taint Nobody's Biz-Ness If I Do
16. I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town
17. Careless Love
18. Doctor Blues
19. Rosetta
20. Lullaby Of Broadway
21. Old Fashioned Love
22. Some Of These Days
The Sound Of Jazz
23. I Left My Baby
The Way I Feel
24. Where Were You
Tracks 11-13
Jimmy Rushing - Vocals, piano
Buck Clayton - Trumpet
Vic Dickenson - Trombone
Tony Parenti - Clarinet
Cliff Jackson - Piano
Walter Page - Bass
Zutty Singleton - Drums
Tracks 14-16
Same as tracks 11-13 except:
Buddy Tate replaces Tony Parenti, Jo Jones replaces Zutty Singleton
Tracks 17-19
Jimmy Rushing - Vocals
Buck Clayton - Trumpet
Ernie Royal - Trumpet
Vic Dickenson - Trombone
Hilton Jefferson - Alto sax
Buddy Tate - Tenor sax
Danny Banks - Baritone sax
Jo Jones - Drums
Milt Hinton - Bass
`Skeeter' Best - Guitar
Hank Jones - Piano
Tracks 20-22
Jimmy Rushing - Vocals
Buck Clayton, Billy Butterfield, Ed Lewis - Trumpets
Urbie Green, Dicky Wells - Trombones
Hilton Jefferson, Rudy Powell - Alto saxes
Budd Johnson - Tenor sax
Dave McRae - Baritone sax
Hank Jones - Piano
Steve Jordan - Guitar
Milt Hinton - Bass
Jo Jones - Drums
Track 23
Jimmy Rushing - Vocals
Roy Eldridge, Joe Newman, Doc Cheatham, Emmett Berry - Trumpets
Vic Dickenson, Dicky Wells, Frank Rehak - Trombones
Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young - Tenor saxes
Earle Warren - Alto sax
Harry Carney - Baritone sax
Count Basie - Piano
Freddie Green - Guitar
Eddie Jones - Bass
Jo Jones - Drums
Track 24
Jimmy Rushing - Vocals
Frank Galbraith - Trumpet
Dicky Wells - Trombone
Peter Clark - Alto sax
Buddy Tate - Tenor sax
Fletcher Smith - Piano
Jimmy Shirley - Guitar
Walter Page - Bass
Bobby Donaldson - Drums
Little Jimmy Rushing And The Big Brass
1. I'm Coming Virginia
2. Knock Me A Kiss
3. Harvard Blues
4. Mister Five By Five
5. Trav'lin Light
6. June Night
7. It's A Sin To Tell A Lie
8. Rosalie
9. Jimmy's Blues
10. Someday Sweetheart
11. When You're Smiling
12. Somebody Stole My Gal
Jimmy Rushing - Vocals
Buck Clayton, Emmett Berry, Doc Cheatham, Mel David - Trumpets
Frank Rehak, Dicky Wells, Urbie Green - Trombones
Earle Warren, Rudy Powell - Alto sax
Buddy Tate, Coleman Hawkins - Tenor sax
Danny Bank - Baritone sax
Nat Pierce - Piano
Danny Barker - Guitar
Milt Hinton - Bass
Osie Johnson - Drums
Except (tracks 1, 4, 6, 8) Bernie Glow replaces Doc Cheatham, Vic Dickenson replaces Frank Rehak, Jo Jones replaces Osie Johnson
Brubeck & Rushing
13. There'll Be Some Changes Made
14. My Melancholy Baby
15. Blues In The Dark
16. I Never Knew
17. Ain't Misbehavin'
18. Evenin'
19. All By Myself
20. River Stay `Way From My Door
21. You Can Depend On Me
22. Am I Blue
Jimmy Rushing - Vocals
Dave Brubeck - Piano
Paul Desmond - Alto sax
Eugene Wright - Bass
Joe Morello - Drums
The Way I Feel
23. Go Get Some More, You Fool
24. Hi-O-Sylvester
25. The Way I Feel
Jimmy Rushing - Vocals
Dick Vance - Trumpet
Dicky Wells - Trombone
Rudy Powell - Alto sax
Harold Clark - Tenor sax
Alfred Williams - Piano
Walter Page - Bass
Ralph Jones - Drums

In his book A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers, Will Friedwald described Jimmy Rushing as follows: "He was more than a blues singer, but at the same time he did more for the blues than any other male singer of his generation imbuing them with a dignity, a warmth, and a virtuoso technique that were unique to him". All these attributes are on display in this Avid release of four key Rushing albums originally done for Columbia Records between 1956 and 1960.

Jimmy Rushing And The Smith Girls was a tribute album put together to honour Bessie, Mamie, Clara and Trixie Smith (no familial relationship except for the name) all of whom were blues singers in the 20s and 30s. Of this group Bessie was probably the best-known, and she had an important impact on Rushing and the way he sang the blues.

In listening to the blues, it may be helpful to understand exactly what it is and what it is not. The blues is not a particular tune, but rather a precise chorus structure of 12 bars that constantly repeats. Blues can be played both slow and fast, and there are examples of this all the way through this section as well as other albums on this disc. There are also 16-bar blues progressions and the Trixie Smith classic How Come You Do Me Like You Do falls into that category. If you listen closely you can hear Rushing count off the beat, with Barksdale's guitar featured throughout and some terrific riffs from Hawkins.

On all these Smith Girls tracks, Rushing's voice shows suppleness and affection for the material and on Mamie Smith's Arkansas Blues, with a shuffle beat to keep the pace, he swings in a straight-ahead fashion. Bessie Smith was nicknamed "The Empress of the Blues" and was probably the most popular female blues singer of the 20s and 30s. Her 1923 recording of Downhearted Blues was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2006. Jimmy's rendition is full of the love and heartache that the tune requires. Clara's Shipwrecked Blues is a slow blues that Jimmy and the band give a funeral interpretation, with Bailey's clarinet wailing away in the background.

The Jazz Odyssey Of James Rushing Esq. is in fact a musical voyage through four cities that had an impact on the development of jazz: New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago, and New York. The concept here was for Jimmy to sing some of the songs he associated with these locations and the band would reflect the style and configuration of playing in these cities. The most interesting cut on this first mini-set is Tricks Ain't Walkin' No More, where Rushing accompanies himself on piano with only Walter Page on bass and Jo Jones on drums. The tune is about the inhabitants of a house of ill repute with Jimmy singing the parts of both the pimp and the prostitute with the latter done in a falsetto voice. The trip continues to Kansas City with I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town, Chicago which features the W.C. Handy standard Careless Love, and finally New York for Some Of These Days. Rushing throughout is in fine voice, with no shouting, clear articulation, and full of essential intonation.

Final comment on CD 1 is reserved for I Left My Baby which is taken from the Columbia album The Sound Of Jazz and not from the TV show of the same name. The track was recorded two days before the programme was broadcast live on December 7, 1957. While the track is a wonderful demonstration of Rushing's he/she twelve-bar blues stories, the TV version is really much better, with powerful solos from both Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins on tenor sax, Vic Dickenson on trombone, and Roy Eldridge on trumpet. The complete TV show is available on YouTube and although the video is grainy and the sound often out of sync, it is probably the greatest jazz TV performance ever broadcast.

Little Jimmy Rushing And The Big Brass is a swinging session of mostly upbeat numbers with a couple of blues and a ballad thrown in for good measure. The Big Brass is a big band of mostly ex-Basie sidemen using arrangements by Jimmy Mundy, Nat Pierce and Buck Clayton. The disc leads off with I'm Coming Virginia, an up-tempo Mundy arrangement with a strong tenor solo by Buddy Tate, but it is all Rushing and the band. As with all of the tracks on this album, Rushing sings with his expected power and gusto. While Jimmy never falters on any of the standards in this session which he delivers in an exciting style, he really does his best work on the blues. On the George Frazier famous 1932 collegiate blues Harvard Blues, which starts with a brilliant solo by Buddy Tate, Rushing delivers the line "Reinhart, Reinhart, I'm a most indifferent guy" which was based upon an undergraduate's call from the ground to the dormitory windows in the early part of the 20th century. Another famous blues is Rushing's own composition, Jimmy's Blues for which Buck Clayton did the arrangement. Here we have Jimmy's voice with Dicky Wells providing a trombone aside for every line including the provocative "some like 'm tall 'n mellow, some like 'm short 'n brown, but you can't tell the difference when the sun goes down".

At first glance Brubeck and Rushing may appear to be an incongruous paring. Dave Brubeck and his quartet are the epitome of West Coast cool jazz, while Rushing comes from the old school swing and blues tradition. Yet this offering comes off remarkably well and, in fact, may be the gem of this release. Bringing together a combination of standards and blues, Rushing is in marvellous joyful voice. Brubeck and the quartet have pared down their support to minimalist intervention and Dave's piano playing is mostly of the single note variety as he eschews the two-handed block chord attack that he often displays. For example on My Melancholy Baby, his solo is the essence of moderation, after Rushing has delivered the verse. Never far away from the blues, the Rushing/Basie composition Blues In The Dark gives all parties a chance to explore Jimmy's deepest heartfelt lyrics - "woman raise your right hand and swear that you've been true" - while Desmond offers one of his best solos and Brubeck digs deep on a blues vamp. On Evenin', Brubeck leads off with a strong blues run, and then Rushing comes in with the verse, all done with a powerful sense of emotion, followed by Desmond's alto as he picks up the tempo and leads Rushing on another run-through of the verse. All in all, this group effort is pure enjoyment for the ten tracks.

The final three tracks on this CD and the final track on CD1 come from an extended-play 10-inch release entitled The Way I Feel. These cuts are from the 1951/52 period, and have more of a rhythm-and-blues feel to them with the exception of the title track which is all blues.

Irving Townsend, in the liner notes to this CD, states that "Jimmy Rushing is one of the great blues singers". Anyone seeking validation for this claim need look no further than this Avid release.

Pierre Giroux

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