Kansas City Star
Singer and pianist Julia Lee (1902-1958) is the heroine of Bear Family's five-CD set Kansas City Star, a 109-track anthology of classic jazz, small band swing, and jump blues recordings that map this woman's professional activities over a 25-year period with a thoroughness that is unparalleled anywhere else in her entire discography. Lee made her first records for the Merritt and Brunswick labels with her big brother George E. Lee & His Novelty Singing Orchestra in 1927 and 1929. Although consistently active as a performer in the famously wide-open Kansas City music scene, she did not record again until signing on with Capitol in 1944. By this time Lee was a seasoned performer who specialized in jump blues and swingy rhythm numbers, often cheerfully peppered with hedonistic lyrics. Winners in this category include "Snatch and Grab It," "I've Got a Crush on the Fuller Brush Man," "The Spinach Song (I Didn't Like It the First Time)," "Sit Down and Drink It Over," "All This Beef and Big Ripe Tomatoes," and the attractively titled "Oh Chuck It (In a Bucket)." Her "Won't You Come Over to My House?," forged in 1929 and revamped at her first Capitol recording date in 1944, reappeared as Nellie Lutcher's hit record of 1947, "Hurry On Down." Noteworthy instrumentalists who are audible on Kansas City Star include Jay McShann, Walter Page, Baby Lovett, and xylophonist Red Norvo.