Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Big Joe Turner's Music Still Jumps

Back in the early 1990s, EMI issued a series of blues reissues that made some important and vintage blues available for blues listeners. In the October 1994 Jazz & Blues Report (issue 195) I reviewed a pair of reissues by Amos MIlburn and Big Joe Turner. Yesterday I presented my review of the Milburn reissue. Today I turn to the Big Joe Turner reissue, Jumpin’ With Joe. The original CD can be found used and the music is available as downloads. Here is my review from 1994.

The Joe Turner collection, Jumpin’ With Joe, brings together his 1947 Aladdin and 1950 Imperial recordings. The Aladdin sessions include a date shared with Wyonnie Harris including a stomping two-part Battle of the Blues, as well as a different date with some jump blues versions of staples from Turner’s repertoire, Nobody in Mind, Roll ‘Em Pete and Low Down Door. Turner’s in strong voice, and the horn arrangements and backing give these jump blues a different flavor from other Turner versions.

Some real treats here are the Imperial sides with the famous Dave Bartholomew studio band, with Fats Domino at piano. The slow blues Story to Tell and Lucille have particularly compelling vocals and splendid boogie blues piano from Domino. Jumpin’ Tonight is a rocking jump blues similar to some of his Freedom recordings. Alas, these made little chart impression. Shortly thereafter Turner started recording for Atlantic Records, a label which developed a winning formula with Big Joe, reviving his career as a major recording artist.

This is a valuable addition to the available Turner discography, and includes several recordings that previously were issued only in Europe, or on 45s, and an alternate take of the Battle of the Blues Part 1. This reissue contains line notes and list all of the pertinent Aladdin and Imperial recordings by the artists. Lacking is personnel and other complete discographical information, although the notes do highlight the important sidemen. Jumpin’ With Joe should have little difficulty pleasing fans of the great shouter.

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