It was 1958 when a moderately successful R&B singer entered the recording studio with an all-star band to tape a dozen songs from the global repertoire of a legendary blues vocalist. The old-fashioned style in LaVern Baker's tribute to Bessie Smith might seem somewhat out of step in the midst of popular R&B numbers and the growing productivity of the Motown hit machines of the day, but it certainly found favor with the public and for very good reason!
Right from the very first number, "Gimme A Pigfoot," the snappy bass line conjures up the ballroom atmosphere of the '20s. A bluesy dialogue with the trumpet ("Baby Doll," "I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle"), alternating with robustly orchestrated swing rhythms ("On Revival Day"), and time and again cool, faltering blues ("Black Water Blues") guarantee great listening and entertainment. Outstanding accompanists – Nat Pierce, Buck Clayton, Paul Quinichette, Urbie Green and Jimmy Cleveland - all crown the fantastic sound of their performance with relaxed and easy-going solos and finely balanced background playing that would hardly be more authentic on a live stage. Fans of traditional big-band swing will find much to love with this album too.
This Speakers Corner 180g vinyl LP reissue was remastered using pure analogue components only, from the master tapes through to the cutting head.
LaVern Baker, vocals
Danny Baker, guitar
Wendell Marshall, bass
Joe Marshall, drums
Nat Pierce, piano
Paul Quinichette, tenor saxophone
Jerome Richardson, baritone saxophone
Sahib Shihab, baritone saxophone
Buck Clayton, trumpet
Jimmy Cleveland / Urbie Green / Vic Dickenson, trombone