Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1923)

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Arwulf Arwulf
In 1997 Document added to an already dizzyingly diverse catalog of reissued historic material by releasing the complete recorded works of George Williams and Bessie Brown, among the first black vaudeville duos to make records for a major label. The grand early 20th century tradition of the African-American husband-and-wife act was best defined by Jodie "Butterbeans" Edwards and Susie Hawthorne. The trail blazed by Butterbeans & Susie was also trod by Leola "Coot" Grant and Kid "Sox" Wesley Wilson, who adapted their act to the extent that it fit with slightly more modern developments, enabling them to make records with Sidney Bechet in the 1930s and '40s. When compared...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Arwulf Arwulf
In 1997 Document added to an already dizzyingly diverse catalog of reissued historic material by releasing the complete recorded works of George Williams and Bessie Brown, among the first black vaudeville duos to make records for a major label. The grand early 20th century tradition of the African-American husband-and-wife act was best defined by Jodie "Butterbeans" Edwards and Susie Hawthorne. The trail blazed by Butterbeans & Susie was also trod by Leola "Coot" Grant and Kid "Sox" Wesley Wilson, who adapted their act to the extent that it fit with slightly more modern developments, enabling them to make records with Sidney Bechet in the 1930s and '40s. When compared with skilled comedians like these, Williams and Brown might come across as peculiarly slow and less talented. For this reason it is better to listen to them in their own context, which is that of old-styled vaudeville standup comedians who trundle out routines that were relatively new at the time and clearly resonated with audiences who had domestic issues of their own. The pianist on all but five titles was Fletcher Henderson (Alexander Brown kneads the ivories on tracks nine through 12, and Lemuel Fowler plays piano on "Scat! Mr. Sweetback"), and several sessions were also visited by members of Henderson's own band. These were cornetist Howard Scott (tracks 13, 14, 19, and 21), trombonist Charlie Green (tracks 19 and 21), and saxophonists Don Redman (tracks 15 and 16) and Coleman Hawkins (tracks 22 and 23). Williams sings alone on tracks six, seven, eight, 15, 16, and 20, while Bessie Brown's first recording session without Williams (she sings "Hoodoo Blues" and "How Can I Get It [When You Keep on Snatchin' It Back]") has staid guitar accompaniment by Roy Smeck, billed here as Alabama Joe. On her "Mississippi Delta Blues" and "Pork Chop Blues," note again the presence of young Coleman Hawkins. This is wonderfully antiquated music, and the song titles indicate that independently and as a team, Williams and Brown drew upon the standard repertoire for their brand of entertainment during the mid-'20s. Their approach and the records they left behind stand comparison with Alfoncy and Bethenea Harris, Jazz Caspar and Louella Jones, and Mike Jackson and Mabel Richardson. Each of these duos (in addition to several other vaudeville acts) appear in fact on Document 5528, the sequel to this volume.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/3/1997
  • Label: Document
  • UPC: 714298552720
  • Catalog Number: 5527

Album Credits

Performance Credits
George W. Williams Primary Artist, Vocals
Don Redman Alto Saxophone
Coleman Hawkins Tenor Saxophone
Roy Smeck Guitar
Alex Brown Piano
Fletcher Henderson Piano
Lem Fowler Piano
Bessie Brown Vocals
Howard Scott Cornet
Technical Credits
Perry Bradford Composer
Charles Thomas Sound Effects
Gerhard Wessely Remastering
Howard Rye Liner Notes
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