1925-1928

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Arwulf Arwulf
Released in 1996, this 25-track compilation of recordings made in Chicago between 1925 and 1927 by Hociel Thomas and Lillie Delk Christian fills gaps in the early Louis Armstrong story, with cameo appearances by classic jazz heroes like clarinetists Johnny Dodds and Jimmie Noone, banjoist Johnny St. Cyr, and pianists Hersal Thomas, Richard M. Jones, and Earl Hines. Both singers have been posthumously pilloried by critics who deplore Hociel's casual, free spirit approach to timing, pitch, and intonation even while jeering at Lillie for sounding too tame, concise, and sweetly mannered. Hociel Thomas was the daughter of George Washington Thomas, Jr., a pianist who recorded ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Arwulf Arwulf
Released in 1996, this 25-track compilation of recordings made in Chicago between 1925 and 1927 by Hociel Thomas and Lillie Delk Christian fills gaps in the early Louis Armstrong story, with cameo appearances by classic jazz heroes like clarinetists Johnny Dodds and Jimmie Noone, banjoist Johnny St. Cyr, and pianists Hersal Thomas, Richard M. Jones, and Earl Hines. Both singers have been posthumously pilloried by critics who deplore Hociel's casual, free spirit approach to timing, pitch, and intonation even while jeering at Lillie for sounding too tame, concise, and sweetly mannered. Hociel Thomas was the daughter of George Washington Thomas, Jr., a pianist who recorded under the name of Clay Custer and who composed the "Muscle Shoals Blues" and the "New Orleans Hop Scop Blues." She was the niece of Beulah Thomas, better known as blues singer Sippie Wallace, and Beulah's little brother Hersal Thomas, a piano prodigy who died suddenly only months after setting up these sessions for Hociel and accompanying her himself. If you're fussy about pitch and intonation, you're listening up the wrong tree with Hociel. She sang intuitively with her heart and let the tones fall where they may. There's something intensely rewarding about this kind of earthy, organic singing, and it should not be judged according to normal standards of musicianship. These are not her complete recordings. There were a handful made before the Okeh sessions that yielded tracks one-ten, and another very fine cluster of tunes cut some 20 years later with trumpeter Mutt Carey. What you do get are all of the records she made in the company of Louis Armstrong. As for Lillie Delk Christian, the charge of excessive sweetness is greatly exaggerated and needs to be overruled. Stylistically she belongs somewhere among Ruth Etting, Annette Hanshaw, and other similarly pleasant pop singers from the 1920s, with a polite candor that suggests a background in cabaret and musical theater. She is best on upbeat numbers like "Ain't She Sweet?" "My Blue Heaven," "You're a Real Sweetheart," "Who's Wonderful? Who's Marvelous? Miss Annabelle Lee," and especially "Too Busy" during which she sings a duet with Armstrong, who scats beautiful circles around her. Jimmie Noone interacts wonderfully with the voice, and lucky listeners will experience a completely unfounded sense of well-being. Virtually everyone who has ever pontificated on the subject of Lillie Delk Christian (including Steve Tracy, the author of the mean-spirited liner notes) hastens to complain bitterly about her rendition of "Was It a Dream?" a slow and gentle waltz that was popularized by Fred and Tom Waring. (Bear in mind Armstrong's fondness for Italian opera -- his favorite soprano was Luisa Tetrazzini.) In truth this is a halting romantic ode of breathtaking delicacy, and those who are unencumbered by impatient postmodern cynicism will be moved by its old-fashioned sentimentality, hopefully sensing that an opportunity to hear Armstrong blowing his horn in this kind of a setting is a rare and delicious treat.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/21/1996
  • Label: Document
  • UPC: 714298544824
  • Catalog Number: 5448
  • Sales rank: 219,636

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Hociel Thomas Primary Artist, Vocals
Johnny Dodds Clarinet
Earl Hines Piano
Jimmie Noone Clarinet
Johnny St. Cyr Banjo
Louis Armstrong Cornet, Vocals
R.J. Jones Piano
Hersal Thomas Piano
Mancy Carr Guitar
Artie Starks Clarinet
Lillie Delk Christian Vocals
Technical Credits
Hociel Thomas Composer
Steven C. Tracy Liner Notes
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