How Low Can You Go? Anthology of the String Bass (1925-1941) [Box Set]
This three-disc, 79-track box set of vintage string bass sides recorded between 1925 and 1941 from Atlanta's marvelous Dust-to-Digital folks can be listened to in a couple of different ways. It works as a survey of 78-rpm era bass players, certainly, including cuts from Bill Johnson, Walter Page, Al Morgan, and many others, but due to its wide-ranging inclusion of jazz, swing, blues, country, jug band, Western swing, and gospel material, it can also work as a wonderfully upbeat set of vintage American roots music, and one doesn't necessarily need to be a string bass player or music historian to get into it. It isn't a collection of bass solos, either, although there are plenty of those scattered through the tunes, but is rather a look at how this instrument was used in a wide variety of settings. Among the high points are "Dinah" by Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra, a funky "Bull Frog Blues" by Charles Pierce & His Orchestra, a blistering "Tex's Dance" from the Prairie Ramblers, a delightfully loose version of "Mama Don't Allow" called "Don't 'Low" from Washboard Sam, and two takes by the Midnight Rounders of "Bull Fiddle Rag." Fun from start to finish, How Low Can You Go? is like a great cross-genre American barn dance in a box. Another great set from Dust-to-Digital.