Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Taking the Blues Time Machine To May 1977 with Big Joe Turner

This is from the May 1977 Buffalo Jazz Report which had the great Big Joe Turner on the cover to help promote the show he did at the Tralfmadore Cafe. I believe I wrote the bio of Joe to promote the sbhow he and Lloyd Glenn did and I was privileged to emcee. While some of the specific albums may be out of print, most, if not all, of Big Joe Turner's recorded output that is listed is available today, although perhaps in different form. I will post my column from that issue next week. I have  noted the first 58 issues of Buffalo Jazz Report (now Jazz & Blues Report) have been digitized and can be downloaded from the University of Buffalo Library system. The website for these archived issues is: http://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/BuffJazz

"Joe Turner can take the most innocuous song:and invest it with tremendous significance. He has a big, commanding voice which has served as the inspiration for many singers, from Jimmy Witherspoon downwards, and it is interesting to ob- serve that when rock-'n'-roll became popular during the nineteen-fifties Joe was able to stage a come-back without any alteration to his basic singing style." -Alun Morgan in Jazz on Record

The legendary blues shouter, Big Joe Turner, will be com- ing to the Tralfamadore Cafe Friday through Sunday May 27 through 29 along with pianist Lloyd Glenn. Big Joe is perhaps the premier blues shouter and a major figure in the histories of blues, jazz and popular music. Lloyd Glenn, if less known than Joe, is a fine pianist whose association with T-Bone Walker and Lowell Fulson as well as his own recordings insure a place in blues and jazz history.

Joe Turner was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1911. He started singing professionally at the age of 14 and in the 1930s was associated with the late Pete Johnson, who spend his last years in Buffalo, at the Sunset Inn where Joe tended bar and sang and Pete tinkled on the ivories. In 1938 they were participants at the famed "Spirituals to Swing Concert" that John Hammond organized at Carnegie Hall. Later in 1938 Pete and Joe joined pianists Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons at Cafe Society. Besides Joe's great singing the Cafe Society was headquarters of the three greatest boogie woogie piano players.

Joe also started a recording career, that is still going strong, recording with Pete Hot Lips Page, Art Tatum and others. Joe sang with Count Basie, Any Kirk's Twelve Clouds of Joy with whom Mary Lou Williams was playing piano, Duke Ellington, and Joe remembers that "I sang with Benny Goodman on the air when he had the Camel Hour, with Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson, and I sang with their trio."

Joe continued to record in the forties and made sides for a variety of labels including National, Savoy, Swing Time, Aladdin and Imperial. People he worked with on those records include Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons, Russell Jacquet, Don Byas, Art Farmer and Fats Domino.

In 1951 Joe was signed to Atlantic where his first session produced "Chains of Love" which earned Joe a gold record. With Atlantic Joe was a monster hit maker on the R'n'B charts with "Sweet Sixteen", "Honey Hush" “Shake Rattle & Roll" (which Bill Haley would later cover). "Flip Flop & Fly" (with Elmore James' band) and "Corrine, Corrina" which Joe first did with Art Tatum. 1956 produced a reunion album with Pete Johnson Boss of the Blues which was aptly titled as they produced a great album of Kansas City Jazz and did new versions of "Roll 'Em Pete", "Cherry Red" amongst the tunes associated with Joe. Joe has continued to record and perform.

The last few years he has sung with the Johnny Otis Show and recorded several .excellent albums on Pablo. His late 1976 engagement at New York's Cookery with Lloyd Glenn was a critical and popular smash.

Big Joe Turner and Lloyd Glenn are being brought to the Tralfamadore by PubIic Radio Station WBFO-FM as a benefit for the station. The concerts wiII launch Iistener support week at WBFO al)d besides great music you wi II be helping WBFO to expand its service to the community and to continue imto expand its service to the community and to continue improving its programming. As Benny Green has written "Joe Turner is one of the very few who sing the blues as though born to it.”

(Joe Turner quote from Paul Clinco's interview with him, Living Blues, Autumn, 1972)

Partial Joe Turner Discography
Rock in' the Blues .~ Atlantic Big Joe is Here - Atlantic
Big Joe Rides Again- Atlantic Boss of the Blues - Atlantic Best of Joe Turner - Atlantic
Joe Turner: His Greatest Recordings - Atlantic
BIues - Savoy
Careless Love - Savoy
Jump in' the Blues - Arhoolie (with Pete Johnson)
Roll 'Em- Bluesway
Super Black Blues - BluesTime (with T-Bone Walker and Otis Spann) 
The Bosses - Pablo (with Count Basie)
Meets the Trumpet Kings - Pablo (with Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry and Roy Eldridge '
Nobody in Mind -Pablo (with Milt Jackson and Roy Eldridge)

No comments: