Just a head's up that I'll be out of town the next couple of weeks so there will be no new shows. We will be running some older shows those weeks so tune in live or to the stream. Also make sure to listen to the new  “Jazz90.1 Swing & Blues” stream (see the previous post).

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Jazz90.1 WGMC-FM is pleased to announce they will launch a brand new internet radio station beginning this summer. The new stream, “Jazz90.1 Swing & Blues”, will feature 108 hours of classic and new blues music each week from 6 a.m. Monday – 6 p.m. Friday, and big band music all weekend long from 6 p.m. Friday – 6 a.m. Monday. The new internet station is expected to launch by Aug. 1, streaming live on www.jazz901.org and via its free mobile app for iPhone and Android. The station will include rebroadcast programs already enjoyed on Jazz90.1 FM, such as Sinatra and Co., Dick Robinson’s American Standards by the Sea, Big Band Friday, Blues Spectrum, Big Road Blues and more. Click here for the program schedule. Stayed tuned as we announce the link to the new stream soon.

If you have the Jazz90.1 app for your iPhone or Android device you can be one of the first to check out the new Jazz90.1 Swing and Blues internet radio station! On Monday July 25 at 9 a.m., those with the app can tune in and enjoy our brand new station before anyone else! You can download it for free in the iTunes app store or Google Play Store.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Maxwell Davis Bristol Drive Wailin' Daddy
Geechie Smith T-Town JumpWailin' Daddy
Helen Humes It's Better To Give Than ReceiveWailin' Daddy
Jo Jo AdamsWhen I'm In My Tea Jo Jo Adams 1946-1953
Clarence 'Gatemouth' BrownWithout My BabyWailin' Daddy
Effie SmithEffie's Boogie Wailin' Daddy
Maxwell Davis Belmont SpecialWailin' Daddy
Gene PhillipsRock BottomDrinkin' And Stinkin'
Lloyd GlennJumpin' With LloydWailin' Daddy
Betty Hall Jones The Same Old Boogie Wailin' Daddy
Little Miss CornshucksCornshuck's BluesWailin' Daddy
Jimmy LigginsHomecoming Blues Jimmy Liggins and His Drops of Joy
Jimmy WitherspoonMoney Eyes WomanJimmy Witherspoon 1947-1948
Big Joe TurnerRainy Weather BluesTell Me Pretty Baby
Maxwell Davis Boogie Cocktails Wailin' Daddy
Crown Prince WaterfordLove Awhile Wailin' Daddy
Felix GrossPeaceful Lovin' Wailin' Daddy
Amos MilburnI'm Gonna Tell My Mama The Complete Aladdin Recordings
Maxwell Davis Cool Diggin'Wailin' Daddy
Charles BrownSeven Long DaysThe Complete Aladdin Recordings
Joe LigginsGoing Back to New Orleans Wailin' Daddy
Percy MayfieldStrange Things HappeningPercy Mayfield 1947-1951
Peppermin Harris I Sure Do Miss My BabyI Got Loaded
Floyd Dixon Real Lovin' Mama Wailin' Daddy
Eddie JohnsonMr. Juice HeadWailin' Daddy
T-Bone WalkerAlimony BluesThe Complete Recordings of T-Bone Walker 1940-1954
Maxwell DavisThunderbirdWailin' Daddy
Little Willie Littlefield Real Fine MamaKat On The Keys
Mabel ScottWailin' DaddyWailin' Daddy
Calvin BozeBlow Man BlowJumpin' Like Mad
Ray Hawkins It's Hard Bad Luck Is Falling
Jimmy NelsonCry Hard LuckWailin' Daddy
Maxwell Davis Rocking With MaxieFather of West Coast R&B
Etta JamesCrazy FeelingThe Complete Modern and Kent Recordings 1955-1961
B.B. KingDark Is The NightThe Vintage Years

Show Notes:

Wailin' DaddyToday's show is inspired by Wailin' Daddy: The Best of Maxwell Davis 1945-1959 a great 3-CD compiled by Dave Penny for the Fantastic Voyage label a few years back. Several other sax themed shows will follow in upcoming weeks. Unsung hero is term often thrown around but in cases like Maxwell Davis it certainly fits. Outside of hardcore collectors he's little remembered today which I suppose is the fate of a musician who stayed largely in the background. Up until the Fantastic Voyage release he was not well served on reissues; there was the Ace release in the 80's, Father Of The West Coast R & B and Official issued Maxwell Davis and his Tenor Sax around the same time. Singles under his name were issued during his heyday, some released as a 10" in 1954, there were a couple of albums he did that paid homage to the big bands and the oddball 1966 album, Batman Theme (reissued in 2000 by BGP Records under the title Batman And Other Themes By Maxwell Davis). There has been little written about Davis as well, outside of a few Encyclopedia entries and it doesn't seem he was interviewed before his passing in 1970.

As legendary songwriter Jerry Leiber said: "I think Phil [Spector] made some good records, but I know a lot of people who made better records and more of them, and no one knows who they are! Maxwell Davis…I doubt if you’ve ever heard that name – but Maxwell Davis made records, he was the quiet producer/arranger for the Mesner brothers at Aladdin, the Bihari brothers at Modern and Art Rupe at Specialty. Maxwell Davis must have made a hundred hits, not 12 or 17. And nobody knows who Maxwell Davis is today!" Among those hits were Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love”, Joe Liggins’ “Pink Champagne”, Amos Milburn’s “Chicken Shack Boogie” and “Bad, Bad Whiskey” and Peppermint Harris' “I Got Loaded.” Davis' work as a saxophonist, bandleader, arranger and producer has earned him the title "Father of West Coast R&B." The labels with which Davis was associated represent a stunning role call of the major players in Post war R&B: legendary indies such as Aladdin/Philo, Modern/RPM, Imperial/Colony, King/Federal, Exclusive/Excelsior, Specialty, Down Beat/Swing Time and Black & White, as well as major labels like Capitol, Decca/Brunswick, Mercury and RCA Victor, and smaller operations like Supreme, Pacific, Miltone and Chesterfield. He can be heard on hundreds of records by artists such as Gatemouth Brown, Gene Phillips, Jimmy and Joe Liggins,  Amos Milburn, Charles Brown, Floyd Dixon, Etta James, B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Percy Mayfield and many, many others. Davis also cut some fine singles under his own name. Today's show focuses less on the well known songs, spotlighting more of the lesser known gems from Davis' vast catalog.

Maxwell Davis originally hailed from Independence, Kansas where he was born in 1916. By the age of twelve he was practicing hard on the saxophone having already tried the violin and piano. A few years later he had formed his own group and at the age of seventeen earned a berth in the territory band of Gene Coy. In 1937 he moved to Los Angeles and began working with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra before forming a small group for club gigs. As the war came to an end, the Los Angeles R&B scene boomed and Maxwell worked as a freelance musician and arranger for the numerous record companies which were springing up on the West Coast. Among his earliest sides on record are from 1945 where he backed artists like Helen Humes and Geechie Smith.

In 1948 he signed a contract with Aladdin Records which within a year became the top selling R&B label in the country. He recorded with Jo Jo Adams for Aladdin Records in 1946 on several numbers. Davis also recorded "Guitar In My Hands" and "Without Me baby" with Gatemouth Brown for Aladdin. Davis begins the year 1950 on the Swing Time Records label backing artists such as Felix Gross, Big Speed McDaniel, Lowell Father of West Coast R&BFulson and others. In January of 1951 Modern Records releases a Maxwell Davis record from the masters of Swing Time, the tunes "Belmont Special" and "Boogie Cocktails." In August of the year Peppermint Harris records with Maxwell Davis & His All Stars cutting "I Got Loaded" and "It's You Yes It's You" on Aladdin. "Loaded" became a huge hit and Davis became in high demand as a music arranger and session musician. During this time Modern records issued another two tunes under Davis' name:"Bristol Drive" and "Resistor."

In 1952 several Davis singles were released by Aladdinincluding "Glory Of Love" and "Blue Tango" and "Blue Shuffle" and "Popsicle." In October Swing Time released "Little White Lies" and "Don't Worry About Me." In 1955 Davis left Aladdin Records after almost five years and moved to Modern Records becoming musical director. In December 1952 Davis waxed two instrumentals,"Thunderbird" and "Bluesville" on Modern's RPM subsidiary.

As John Broven wrote in his book Record Makers and Breakers: "By now, Maxwell Davis was in charge of the Modern sessions and, with a coterie of high-caliber musicians, was giving the productions an indelible stamp of class. His arrangements owed much to the swing-band era sounds of Fletcher Henderson (for whom he played tenor saxophone), Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, and Artie Shaw. Recalled Joe Bihari, 'Maxwell had been in Florida where Louis Jordan had lost his book of songs, all his arrangements. So Louis called Maxwell to rearrange all his songs. When he came back, somebody rammed Maxwell’s car head-on. He was okay, but he was in [the] hospital for a while . . . not good for a black man in Georgia. It wasn’t his fault; he was all cut up. He needed a job, and that’s when I hired Maxwell. We had used him before. He did the arrangements for Gene Phillips [Modern] in the late ’40s, he did a lot of Amos Milburn things for Aladdin, and [he] played sax on Ray Anthony’s ‘Idaho’ on Capitol [in 1952]. Maxwell had a very definite sound with the saxophone, [a] great big sound. He was a very fine musician and a wonderful man, wonderful family.'

The value of Maxwell Davis to the Bihari organization cannot be overstated, even if at times, said Joe Bihari, he coasted lazily on his abundant talent and did tend to hit the bottle. But in assimilating rhythm and blues music with rock ’n’ roll, he was a black A&R man who was making as much creative impact as Henry Glover at King, Jesse Stone at Atlantic, and Dave Bartholomew at Imperial. B. B. King was Maxwell Davis’s premier assignment. 'He was so good at writing [arrangements], so good,' said King. 'I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody that could write a blues [song] like Maxwell Davis, before or since. He was unknown outside the industry, but he made a lot of records for a lot of people.'”

In the late sixties Davis was working on Modern’s re-activated Kent label, producing blues hits by Lowell Fulson, Z.Z. Hill and B.B. King. He was still working when he died of a heart attack in September 1970.

 

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Washboard Sam Diggin' My Potatoes Washboard Sam Vol. 4 1939-1940
Arbee Stidham You'll Be Sorry Arbee Stidham Vol. 1 1947 - 1951
Roosevelt Sykes Fine and BrownThe United Records Story
Big Bill Broonzy TomorrowBlack, Brown And White
Earl Hooker & Bobby SaxtonDynamitePlay Your Guitar, Mr. Hooker!
Roosevelt Sykes Honey ChildSings The Blues
Roosevelt Sykes Feel like Blowing My Horn Feel like Blowing My Horn
Maggie Jones Box Car BluesMaggie Jones Vol. 1 1923-1925
Ora Brown T. W. A. BluesTiny Parham & The Blues Singers 1926-1928
Sharlie EnglishTuba Lawdy BluesTiny Parham & The Blues Singers 1926-1928
Elzadie Robinson Love Crazy Blues Elzadie Robinson Vol. 1 1926-1928
Three Dynamites Dig These Dynamites 78
Jimmy Nolen Strollin' with Nolen IScratchin'
Ivory Joe Hunter Old Gal, New Gal BluesIvory Joe Hunter 1947
Lyin' Joe HolleyBig Machine BluesSo Cold In The USA
Lyin' Joe HolleyDrinking BudweiserSo Cold In The USA
Bertha Chippie Hill Some Cold Rainy DayBaby, How Can It Be?
Curley WeaverSome Cold, Rainy DayBlues Images Vol. 13
Georgia Cotton PickersShe's Coming Back Some Cold Rainy DayThe Voice Of The Blues: Bottleneck Guitar Masterpieces
Tarheel Slim Some Cold Rainy DayNo Time At All
Buddy Moss Cold Rainy DayThe George Mitchell Collection
The Too Bad Boys Corrine Corrina Blues The Voice Of The Blues: Bottleneck Guitar Masterpieces
Rufus & Ben QuillianThe Satisfaction Blues Please Warm My Weiner
Elmore James I Was a FoolEarly Recordings 1951-56
Prez Kenneth I Am Looking for my BabyWe're Gonna Boogie: Raw 60's Down Home Blues
Hound Head Henry & Cow Cow DavenportLow Down Hound BluesThe Essential
Cow Cow DavenportTexas ShoutThe Essential
Henry Gray I Declare That Ain't Right Knights Of The Keyboard: Chicago Piano Blues
Henry Gray They Call Me Little HenryThey Call Me Little Henry
Charlie PattonRattlesnake BluesThe Best Of
Bob Campbell Starvation Farm BluesRare Country Blues Vol. 2 1929-1943
Charlie Campbell Goin' Away Blues Uptown Blues A Decade Of Guitar/Piano Duets
Rubberlegs WilliamsDid You Ever Get To ThinkingObscure Blues Shouters vol. 2

Show Notes:

So Cold In The USA
Read Liner Notes

Today's show opens with several songs by Buster Bennett and Sax Mallard I didn't get to on the last show due to the station's coverage of the Rochester Jazz Festival. Both sax men were much in demand in the 30's and 40's. Bennett made his debut in 1938 and his successor Sax Mallard, hit his stride in the mid-to-late 40's. The music they made evolved into the Chicago R&B and jump music scene of the 1940's and '50's that we spotlighted a few weeks back. For the rest of the program we play a wide mix including tracing the history of a classic blues song, we spin several fine blues ladies, spotlight pianists Cow Cow Davenport, Henry Gray and Lyin' Joe Holley and much more.

“Some Cold Rainy Day” was a well known song around Atlanta, recorded by Curley Weaver and The Georgia Cotton Pickers. Barbecue Bob's last sides under his own name were recorded in Dec. 1930 and shortly afterwards he cut four sides with longtime friend Curley Weaver and sixteen year old Buddy Moss under the name The Georgia Cotton Pickers. One of those songs was "She's Coming Back Some Cold Rainy Day." The song was originally recorded by singer Bertha “Chippie” Hill in 1928 with Tampa Red on guitar. The following year Tampa cut "You Got to Reap What You Sow", an instrumental with exactly the same melody. The same year Leroy Carr waxed a version of "You Got to Reap What Sow" with lyrics. We also spin two versions from the post-war era; Buddy Moss was captured in the 60's doing a version of the song for George Mitchell and Pete Lowry recorded Tarheel Slim in his living room which ended up on the Trix album No Time At All. Lowry also recorded versions by by Earnest Scott (Atlanta) in 1973 and J.C. Rush (Manchester, GA) in 1979 which have not been issued. As Pete told me "along with "Tricks" ["Tricks Ain't Walking No More"], it was an Atlanta area marker!"

In addition to “Chippie” Hill, we hear from several fine blues women including Elzadie Robinson, Ora Brown, Sharlie English and Maggie Jones. Robinson hailed from Shreveport, Louisiana, but remained in Chicago, after going there to record. Her recordings span 1926-29, and during that time she worked with several pianists including Bob Call, and her regular accompanist and fellow Shreveport native, Will Ezell. Robinson chiefly recorded for the Paramount label, but also cut several sides for Broadway under the alias Bernice Drake. On our track, “Love Crazy Blues”, she's backed by on banjo by Johnny St Cyr. Cyr was a New Orleans pioneer who was greatly in demand in the 1920's. Self-taught, St. Cyr had his own trio as far back as 1905. After moving to Chicago in 1923, St. Cyr made his place in history by recording with King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, and Louis Armstrong.

There is no information about Ora Brown. She only made four recordings in 1927, working with pianists Tiny Parham who backed her on her first two and Will Ezell on the other two. Parham also backed singer Sharlie English on a four song session from 1928 which yielded one of our featured cuts, "Tuba Lawdy Blues."

Some Cold Rainy DayMaggie Jones was born Fae Barnes in Hillsboro, Texas, around 1900. She moved in the early 1920's to New York City, where she began to perform in local clubs billed as the "Texas Nightingale." On July 26, 1923, she became one of the earliest female Texas singers to record, cutting some three dozen sides for a variety of labels including Black Swan and Columbia through 1926. She recorded with some top flight musicians including Louis Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson and Charlie Green who shines on our track, "Box Car Blues." Sometime in the early 1930's she returned to Texas and was last known to have been performing in Fort Worth area in 1934. While not in the front rank of woman blues singers of the era, she was very fine singer who should be better remembered.

Among the piano men featured today we hear from Lyin' Joe Holley, Cow Cow Davenport and Henry Gray. Holley was recorded by George Paulus in Chicago. He recorded one full-length album for JSP, So Cold In The USA, with four more tracks appearing on the anthology Piano Blues Legends also on JSP and also never issued on CD. Holley played house parties, bars and for friends and at the time of this recording played regularly at the Provident Barber Shop in Chicago where this album was recorded.

Henry Gray was originally born in Alsen, Louisiana, outside of Baton Rouge. Gray became a stalwart of the Chicago blues scene, playing behind Jimmy Rogers and Little Walter before embarking on a twelve year stint with Howlin' Wolf. He cut some sides for Chess in 1953 with harmonica blower Henry Strong, but these were unissued at the time. Strong was to replace Walter Horton in Muddy Waters Band but he was murdered by a jealous girlfriend in June of 1954 before he was able to record anything with Muddy. In 1968 he returned to Alsen to take care of his ailing father. He began playing the with a group called the Cats in local juke joints and made regular appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He cut a couple of sides that appeared on the 1970 album, Swamp Blues, but didn't record again until 1977 when he cut an album titled They Call Me Little Henry for Bluebeat.

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