Sunday, September 17, 2006

I Wonder about Cecil Gant

After all why isn't he in the Blues Hall of Fame or his very influential recording "I Wonder" which became a smash by the "G.I. Sing-sation for the independent Gilt-Edge. Not only a great recording, "I Wonder" helped launch the independent record boom that made it possible for the post-war rhythm'n'blues scene to blossom. Furthermore, he was a marvelous pianist, vocalist and songwriter and his songs, especially "I Wonder" have become staples of the blues repertoire. I point out to sixties covers by B.B. King and Esther Phillips to suggest his impact. "I Wonder" perhaps owed a bit of its success to Nat Cole's success, but Gant was a marvelous boogie woogie pianist who played with sophistication as well as a wry blues lyricist and singer with a slight nasal tinge to his vocals.
Gant's career was a relatively short one, as he died at a very young in 1951, yet in his eight year career issued 160 or so sides, most performed at a very high level. While Flyright issued a wonderful CD of Gant's music, the European Blue Moon label has finished its seven CDs of Gant's Complete Recordings, which frankly can all be recommended. Volumes 6 and 7 have just been issued and like earlier volumes are varied musically and full of excellent performances. One interesting aspect of the seventh volume is a duet with Red Foley from 1950 that was not issued originally and then another session where he did Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Shotgun Boogie" as well as "Rock Little Baby" from Eunice Davis and Alberta Hunter along with his own originals.
One would be hard pressed to find a living blues pianist-vocalist who has made as substantial a contribution to the development of the blues and left such a consistent body of music as Gant did over five decades ago.

2 comments:

chuck said...

Thanks Ron,for the great post on Cecil. One of the great under-rated.

my cecil post

Gene590 said...

Ron,m

You keep coming back to only one song: "I wonder." It makes me wonder if he was just a one-hit wonder?

-Gene