|Lil Johnson w/ Charles Avery||You'll Never Miss Your Jelly||Lil Johnson Vol. 1 1929-1936|
|Lil Johnson w/ Charles Avery||Rock That Thing||Lil Johnson Vol. 1 1929-1936|
|Lil Johnson w/ Charles Avery||House Rent Scuffle||Lil Johnson Vol. 1 1929-1936|
|Lucille Bogan w/ Charles Avery||Whiskey Sellin' Woman||Lucille Bogan Vol. 11923-1930|
|Lucille Bogan w/ Charles Avery||They Ain't Walking No More||Lucille Bogan Vol. 2 1930-1933|
|Lucille Bogan w/ Charles Avery||Alley Boogie||Lucille Bogan Vol. 2 1930-1933|
|Freddie ''Redd'' Nicholson w/ Charles Avery||Tee Rolller's Rub||Boogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano Vol. 1 1928-1932|
|Freddie ''Redd'' Nicholson w/ Charles Avery||I Ain't Sleepy||Boogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano Vol. 1 1928-1932|
|Freddie ''Redd'' Nicholson w/ Charles Avery||Freddie's Got The Blues||Boogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano Vol. 1 1928-1932|
|Red Nelson w/ Charles Avery||Detroit Blues||Red Nelson 1936-1947|
|Red Nelson w/ Charles Avery||Grand Trunk Blues||Red Nelson 1936-1947|
|Big Bill Broonzy w/ Black Bob||Good Liqueur Gonna Carry me Down||The Young Big Bill Broonzy 1928-1935|
|Big Bill Broonzy w/ Black Bob||Keep Your Hands Off Of Her||When The Sun Goes Down|
|Charlie West w/ Black Bob||Hobo Blues||Rare 1930s & '40s Blues Vol. 3 1937-1948|
|Charlie West w/ Black Bob||Rolling Stone Blues||Rare 1930s & '40s Blues Vol. 3 1937-1948|
|Tampa Red w/ Black Bob||Mean Old Tom Cat Blues||Tampa Red Vol. 6 1934-1935|
|Tampa Red w/ Black Bob||Somebody's Been Using That Thing||Tampa Red Vol. 6 1934-1935|
|Tampa Red w/ Black Bob||Shake It About Little||Tampa Red Vol. 6 1934-1935|
|Charlie McCoy w/ Black Bob||Let My Peaches Be||The McCoy brothers
Vol. 1 1934-1936
|Lil Johnson w/ Black Bob||I'm Betting On You||Lil Johnson Vol. 1 1929-1936|
|Fats Hayden w/ Teddy Bunn||Brownskin Gal Is The Best Gal After All||Teddy Bunn 1929-1940|
|Ben Franklin w/ Teddy Bunn||Crooked World Blues||Teddy Bunn 1929-1940|
|Jimmie Gordon w/ Teddy Bunn||Sail With Me||Jimmie Gordon Vol. 1938-1938|
|Hot Lips Page w/ Teddy Bunn||Thirsty Mama Blues||The Very Best of Teddy Bunn|
|Cow Cow Davenport w/ Teddy Bunn||That'll Get It||The Very Best of Teddy Bunn|
|Lizzie Miles w/ Teddy Bunn||Yellow Dog Gal Blues||Lizzie Miles Vol. 3 1928-39|
|Lizzie Miles w/ Teddy Bunn||Too Slow||Lizzie Miles Vol. 3 1928-39|
|Trixie Smith w/ Ikey Robinson||Trixie's Blues||Trixie Smith Vol. 2 1925-1939|
|Victoria Spivey w/ Ikey Robinson||Baulin' Water Blues, Pt. 1||Victoria Spivey Vol. 3 1929-1936|
|Georgia White w/ Ikey Robinson||The Blues Ain't Nothin' But...???||The Piano Blues Vol. 13: Central Highway|
|Johnnie Temple w/ Ikey Robinson||Jelly Roll Bert||Johnnie Temple Vol. 2 1938-1940|
|Frankie Jaxson w/ Ikey Robinson||Rock Me Mama||Frankie 'Half-Pint'Jaxon Vol. 1 1926-1929|
On today’s program we shine the light on some superb session musicians who backed blues artists in the pre-war era. We spotlight two fine pianists in Charles Avery and Black Bob. We know little about both men, with Avery making his debut on record in 1929 and Black Bob in 1934 and both dropped off the radar by the late 30’s. Both backed many o the popular blues singers of the era, with Avey cutting just one side under his name and Black Bob cutting nothing under his own name. We also spotlight two very fine guitarists who straddled both the blues and jazz worlds, Teddy Bunn and Banjo Ikey Robinson. Both men backed both jazz musicians and blues singers in the 20’s and 30’s and both cut just a handful of sides under their own names. I'll be doing a sequel, of sorts, where we focus on famous names who were active sessions artists such as Tampa Red, Lonnie Johnson, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Bill Broonzy, Kokomo Arnold and others.
Active in Chicago in the 20's and 30's, Charles Avery worked as a session musician backing artists such as Lil Johnson, Freddie 'Red” Nicholson, Red Nelson and others. He cut one record under his own name, 1929's “Dearborn Street Breakdown.” We here him on several tracks todays including backing blues ladies Lil Johnson and Lucille Bogan as well as singers Freddie "Redd" Nicholson and Red Nelson.
LIl Johnson first recorded in Chicago in 1929, accompanied by pianists Montana Taylor and Charles Avery on five songs. She did not return to the recording studio until 1935. From her second session onwards, she hit up had partnership with the ragtime influenced pianist "Black Bob" Hudson, who provided ebullient support to Johnson's increasingly suggestive lyrics. In 1936 and 1937, she recorded over 40 songs, mostly on the Vocalion label, some featuring Big Bill Broonzy on guitar and Lee Collins on trumpet.
Lucille Bogan recorded for OKeh in 1923, for Paramount in 1927, and for Brunswick in 1928, 1929, and 1930. Although she had an uncommonly large Depression era output, she made no recordings at all in 1931 and 1932. When she switched to ARC for the 1933, 1934, and 1935 sessions, she had to use the pseudonym Bessie Jackson for contractual reasons. After the Second World War Bogan made some trial discs for a New York company. She was mad when the records were rejected and died shortly afterward in 1948. Her records find her back with fine pianists like Charles Avery, Will Ezell and later, Walter Roland.
|Banjo Ikey Robinson|
The obscure singer Freddie "Redd" Nicholson recorded eight sides in 1930 (three were not issued) all backed by pianist Charles Avery. Nothing seems tobe known about him.
There's not much information on Red Nelson outside of what I gleaned from the Encyclopedia of the Blues: "Nelson Wilborn, better known as Red Nelson, or Dirty Red, was born in Sumner, Mississippi, in 1907. A fine, capable vocalist, he moved to Chicago in the early 1930's and was a prominent recording artist from 1935 to 1947. His recordings with pianist Clarence Lofton, especially "Streamline Train" and "Crying Mother Blues," are probably his best work. In the 1960's he performed locally with the Muddy Waters Band."
Very little is known about Black Bob Hudson, except that he was a ragtime-influenced blues pianist who was active from the 1920's and 1930's, and worked with a who's who of Chicago talent including Big Bill Broonzy, Bumble Bee Slim, Jazz Gillum, Lil Johnson, Washboard Sam, Casey Bill Weldon and Tampa Red. He was the brother of banjoist Ed Hudson, and the two frequented the same circles and recording sessions, and sometimes ended up accompanying the same singers. Both brothers were part of the Memphis Nighthawks, and Bob Hudson was also a member (with Tampa Red and other luminaries) of the Chicago Rhythm Kings. Broonzy and Black Bob cut dozens of sides together between 1934 and 1937 and Black Bob is featured on quite a number of Tampa Red sides between 1934 and 1937 .
Teddy Bunn played with many of the top jazzmen of that period on guitar or banjo and sometimes he provided vocals. Teddy Bunn rubbed shoulders with many top jazz musicians aas well as blues singers in the pre-war era. As he noted: "I have a very good ear and can usually sense what the cats are going to play a split second before they do it." Among the notable blues singers he accompanied were artists such as Cow Cow Davenport, Lizzie Miles, Peetie Wheatstraw, Johnnie Temple and Victoria Spivey among others. In addition to an active session career, Bunn was a member of the jazz groups the Spirits of Rhythm and June 1939, and was among the very first musicians ever to record for the Blue Note record label, first as a soloist, then as a member of the Port of Harlem Jazzmen. Today we hear Bunn backing several blues singers including a pair of excellent numbers by Lizzie Miles.
Lizzie Miles was a fine classic blues singer from the 1920s who survived to have a full comeback in the 1950s. She started out singing in New Orleans during 1909-1911 with such musicians as King Oliver, Kid Ory, and Bunk Johnson. She recorded extensively between1922-1930. She recorded in 1939 but spent 1943-1949 outside of music and in 1950 began a comeback recording for labels such as Circle, Cook, Capitol, Verve and others before retiring in 1959.
Ikey Robinson was an excellent banjoist and singer who recorded both jazz and blues from the late '20s into the late '30s. After working locally, Robinson moved to Chicago in 1926, playing and recording with Jelly Roll Morton, Clarence Williams, and Jabbo Smith during 1928-1929. He led his own recording sessions in 1929, 1931, 1933, and 1935. His groups included Ikey Robinson and his Band (w/ Jabbo Smith), The Hokum Trio, The Pods of Pepper, Windy City Five, and Sloke & Ike. Robinson also accompanied blues singers such as Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon, Georgia White, Eva Taylor and Bertha "Chippie" Hill among others.
Related Articles: -Charlie West (Blues World 44, Autumn 1972)
-Charlie West (Blues World 44, Autumn 1972)