Complete Recorded Works (1925-29)

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Arwulf Arwulf
Document Records presents 20 marvelously old-fashioned performances recorded between November 10, 1925, and April 1, 1929, by "the Original" Bessie Brown, a vaudeville entertainer and occasional male impersonator who sounded more than a little like Sophie Tucker. Clearly enunciating the words to blues and pop tunes in a deep voice with very little discernible Afro-American dialect, Bessie Brown is backed by some of Harlem's finest musicians, including cornetists Thomas Morris and Rex Stewart; trombonists Charlie Irvis and Charlie Green; reedmen Coleman Hawkins and Buster Bailey; banjoists Buddy Christian and Clarence Holiday; as well as pianists Porter Grainger, Clarence ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Arwulf Arwulf
Document Records presents 20 marvelously old-fashioned performances recorded between November 10, 1925, and April 1, 1929, by "the Original" Bessie Brown, a vaudeville entertainer and occasional male impersonator who sounded more than a little like Sophie Tucker. Clearly enunciating the words to blues and pop tunes in a deep voice with very little discernible Afro-American dialect, Bessie Brown is backed by some of Harlem's finest musicians, including cornetists Thomas Morris and Rex Stewart; trombonists Charlie Irvis and Charlie Green; reedmen Coleman Hawkins and Buster Bailey; banjoists Buddy Christian and Clarence Holiday; as well as pianists Porter Grainger, Clarence Williams, and Fletcher Henderson. The unidentified pianist on the session of April 2, 1928 tracks 12-14 was a superbly able practitioner of the Harlem stride piano style. The singer's material covers an impressive range from the jazzy blues "There Ain't Much Good in the Best of Men Nowadays" to a theatrically wistful version of "The Man I Love," another solid link with Sophie Tucker. In addition to the famous comedic duo piano version he recorded with James P. Johnson in January 1930, Clarence Williams oversaw several different recordings of "How Could I Be Blue?," including straightforward treatments by Elvira Johnson and Bessie Brown. "Song from a Cotton Field" is exceptionally unusual for its day -- a bouncy, cynical protest song demanding freedom and containing the lines "All my life I been makin' it/All my life white folks takin' it/Sing my song like I'm happy and gay." This compilation closes with four Columbia recordings from October 1929 featuring Eliza "Liza" Brown, a "comedienne" heard here in almost entirely spoken skits with vocalist Ann Johnson and pianist/comedian Wesley Wilson, a wise guy usually paired with his wife, Leola Wilson, known professionally as Coot Grant. If Bessie Brown's delivery toned down her blackness, Liza Brown played hers up in the manner of Butterbeans & Susie or Louis and Lil Hardin Armstrong, with gutsy touches worthy of Victoria Spivey, Ma Rainey, and Bessie Smith.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/10/1996
  • Label: Document
  • UPC: 714298545623
  • Catalog Number: 5456
  • Sales rank: 346,590

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Bessie Brown Primary Artist, Vocals
Jim Jackson Guitar
Rex Stewart Cornet
Coleman Hawkins Tenor Saxophone
Buddy Christian Banjo
Porter Grainger Piano
Clarence Holiday Banjo
Charlie Irvis Tuba
Clarence Williams Piano
Charlie Green Tuba
Wesley Wilson Piano
Bobby Stark Cornet
Harvey Boone Clarinet
Del Thomas Brass Baritone
Benny Moten Clarinet
Ann Johnson Vocals
Technical Credits
George Gershwin Composer
Stanley Turrentine Composer
W.C. Handy Composer
Ira Gershwin Composer
Porter Grainger Composer
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