On the surface, the two performances that follow are very simple, possibly hackneyed: a fast blues with a boogie-woogie underpinning and some Basie riffs at the end, followed by a slow blues.
But for those willing to listen deeply, these two familiar recordings are astonishing evidence of the vocalized sounds the great instrumental masters obtained through wood, metal, animal skins and taut strings. The players worked for Barney Josephson at his Cafe Society Downtown and Uptown in 1943, and recorded these 12″78 sides for Milt Gabler of Commodore Records. The label credits the Edmond Hall Sextet: Edmond Hall (clarinet), Emmett Berry (trumpet), Vic Dickenson (trombone), Eddie Heywood (piano), Billy Taylor (double bass) and Big Sid Catlett (drums)
DOWNTOWN CAFE BOOGIE and UPTOWN CAFE BLUES are marvelous syntheses of the music of this century — and they seem vivid in ours as well. In these performances, I hear country blues figures older than records, and Bessie Smith and the singers of the Twenties. I hear Louis Armstrong and Hot Lips Page, the Sunset Cafe and the Reno Club, the piano figures of Cow Cow Davenport and sleek intensity of Charlie Christian. And more. Marvel!
May your happiness increase.