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Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Bessie Smith

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Steve Futterman
They called her the Empress of the Blues, and for good reason. Bessie Smith reigned as the leading female blues vocalist throughout the 1920s, during the music’s early popularity boom. With her majestic voice and superb interpretive skills, Smith took blues singing to new levels of artistry before her untimely death in 1937. This fine collection -- a terrific introduction to this great performer’s work -- captures some of Smith’s most intense and spirited signature numbers, including “Back Water Blues,” “Me and My Gin,” “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair,” and “Careless Love,” among other representative performances. Smith was a major influence on nearly every great ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Steve Futterman
They called her the Empress of the Blues, and for good reason. Bessie Smith reigned as the leading female blues vocalist throughout the 1920s, during the music’s early popularity boom. With her majestic voice and superb interpretive skills, Smith took blues singing to new levels of artistry before her untimely death in 1937. This fine collection -- a terrific introduction to this great performer’s work -- captures some of Smith’s most intense and spirited signature numbers, including “Back Water Blues,” “Me and My Gin,” “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair,” and “Careless Love,” among other representative performances. Smith was a major influence on nearly every great American vernacular singer, from Billie Holiday to Dinah Washington to Janis Joplin to Cassandra Wilson. A few moments listening to Smith at her best will explain why: Few singers in any genre have ever had the expressive powers and technical skills of this vocal icon.
All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
When filmmaker Ken Burns' multi-part documentary Jazz ran on PBS in 2001, Sony and Universal teamed up on a series of compilation albums of artists featured in the show, and sales were brisk. In 2003, film director Martin Scorsese served as executive producer of a series of films under the umbrella heading The Blues for PBS, and Sony and Universal launched a similar project with similar commercial hopes. Bessie Smith is an obvious choice for an inclusion in the series, and there's nothing wrong with the 15-track distillation of her record catalog released under the title Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues. If a blues neophyte, catching Smith on TV, goes out and buys this midline-priced compilation, that listener will hear some of Smith's best performances. But Smith was already well-represented in the record racks before this release. The Collection, released by Columbia/Legacy more than a decade earlier, was a 16-track best-of, and it was still in print at the same $11.98 list price on the day that Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues was released. The two-disc The Essential Bessie Smith from 1997, while considerably more expensive, was also in print and highly recommended. This is not to mention the numerous European imports containing the same material, in inferior packaging and sound quality, but at even lower prices. So, if Columbia/Legacy sells a few more Smith records through this campaign, more power to it, but the disc upon release was actually redundant in terms of the artist's in-print discography.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/9/2003
  • Label: Sony
  • UPC: 827969049327
  • Catalog Number: 90493

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Bessie Smith Primary Artist, Vocals
Buster Bailey Clarinet
Chu Berry Tenor Saxophone
Benny Goodman Clarinet
James P. Johnson Piano
Jack Teagarden Trombone
Joe Williams Trombone
Frankie Newton Trumpet
Coleman Hawkins Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Ed Allen Cornet
Louis Armstrong Cornet
The Bessemer Singers Choir, Chorus
Garvin Bushell Alto Saxophone
Lincoln Conaway Guitar
Charlie Dixon Banjo
Fletcher Henderson Piano, Reed Organ
Porter Grainger Guitar, Piano
Jimmy Harrison Trombone
Fred Longshaw Piano, Reed Organ
Joe "Fox" Smith Cornet
Cyrus St. Clair Tuba
Billy Taylor Double Bass
Greely Walton Tenor Saxophone
Buck Washington Piano, Leader
Clarence Williams Piano
Charlie Green Trombone
Bob Escudero Tuba
Billy Taylor Sr. String Bass
Bobby Johnson Guitar
Lincoln M. Conaway Guitar
Joe Williams Trombone
Joe Smith Cornet
Technical Credits
Alberta Hunter Composer
Bessie Smith Composer
Percy Grainger Composer
Clint Black Composer
Perry Bradford Composer
W.C. Handy Composer
Steven Berkowitz Producer
Andy Razaf Composer
Lovie Austin Composer
George Brooks Composer
Tim Brymn Composer
James Cox Composer
Peter DeRose Composer
Frank Driggs Cover Photo, Tray Photo
Ulrich Felsburg Executive Producer
Eddie Green Composer
Martha E. Koenig Composer
Huddie Ledbetter Composer
Andy McKaie Producer
Hayden Nicholas Composer
Tom Piazza Liner Notes
Jo Trent Composer
Mark Wilder Mastering
Clarence Williams Composer
Spencer Williams Composer
Vartan Art Direction
Harry Richman Composer
Wesley Wilson Composer
Christopher Austopchuk Art Direction
Howard Fritzson Art Direction
Martin Scorsese Liner Notes, Executive Producer
Margaret Bodde Producer
Harry Burke Composer
Pat Lawrence Executive Producer
Robert Prince Composer
Adam Owett Art Direction
Paul "PDA" Allen Executive Producer
Richard Hutton Producer
Ellen Nygaard Icon
Jody Patton Executive Producer
Abe Vélez Packaging Manager
Jeff Jones Executive Producer
Jimmie Cox Composer
H. Burke Composer
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