Friday, January 29, 2010

The Real Tin Pan Alley

Curtis Jones- Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1941-1953)

Album Review:
"During the 1990s, the Document label reissued 91 recordings made by Texas-born Chicago blues pianist Curtis Jones during the years 1934-1953 without expending any resources to clean up the surface noise that came rising up off of the old 78 rpm platters. Volume four begins in January 1941, includes his 1953 Parrot single "Wrong Blues" b/w "Cool Playing Blues" and ends with three rare sides cut in October 1934 with big-voiced Alfoncy Harris, who sang with Blind Willie McTell and Memphis bandleader Douglas Williams during the '20s. Like the previous volume in the series, this slice of the chronology is striated with several distinctly different styles and moods, from the straightforward gravity of the "Low Down Worried Blues" through the jazzy jive of "It's a Solid Sender" and "Itty Bitty Jitter Bug," to the fully realized, saxophone-fortified postwar Chicago-blues-band sound of the "Flamin' Blues" and its flipside, the "Upside Down Blues." Jones is heard with bassists Ransom Knowling and Alfred Elkins; with drummer Judge Riley and, on the Parrot session, guitarist L.G. McKinley. The famous "Tin Pan Alley," destined to become one of Jones' most famous tunes, refers to a dangerous section of town where even the streetwise may be taking their lives into their own hands. This is, of course, as different as could be from the connotation of the original "Tin Pan Alley," New York's music publishing district on West 28th Street near Broadway. That Tin Pan Alley gave the world songs like "Yes We Have No Bananas." The Tin Pan Alley invoked by Curtis Jones must have been located in the roughest part of Chicago's South Side, and is light years removed from the old stamping grounds of George M. Cohan, Al Jolson, Jerome Kern, and Irving Berlin."

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