Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Whenever most people discover New Orleans music, they find a level of excitement and feeling that they might never have experienced in any other kind of music. For many, a hunger grows with each visit or listening experience: music from this city is deep in feeling and will move you out of your seat and, if you live in the city, out into the street. If you don't live here, watch out. The newest release by the keeper of America's Americana, the Smithsonian Institute, is full of New Orleans' musical treats discovered by different generations of folklorists, music historians and music lovers who came to the city on a quest to study, listen, feel and move to the music of New Orleans.
The 'Classic Sounds of New Orleans' CD on the Smithsonian Folkways label is due out on July 27th and includes 25 songs culled from recordings that were made in the city originally for Moses Asch's pioneering recording company, Folkways Records. They focus on material recorded by music historians Frederick Ramsey, Jr., and Samuel Barclay Charters, Harvard undergrads David Wyckoff and Alden Ashforth and blues folklorist Harry Oster. The material ranges from sounds of the streets to traditional jazz, blues and sacred music as only New Orleans people make it.
From the streets we have the street cries of fruit vendor Dora Bliggen, a hand and knee slapping performance by an anonymous shoeshine boy, street musician harmonica player, Freddie Small's rendition of "Tiger Rag, the call and response of Mardi Gras Indian gang, Red White and Blue and a street parade by the Eureka Brass Band. We are brought to church by street evangelist Sister Dora Alexander on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter and given an interpretation of "Dark Was the Night," by Rev. Lewis Jackson and Charlotte Rucell, also introduced is the Choir of Pilgrim Baptist Church recorded in 1954. Some of the music found in a traditional jazz funeral as done by the Paulin Brass Band round out the tribute to music in the streets.
The city's blues roots are not left unturned in the 'Classic Sounds of New Orleans.' That part of the tribute starts with Punch Miller's rendition of “Bucket’s Got A Hole in It,” a song that is said to have been in the repertoire of Buddy Bolden. A cut from the classic Folkways recordings of Snooks Eaglin is added as are songs by blues men Champion Jack Dupree, Lonnie Johnson and Roosevelt Sykes.
Traditional jazz musicians that are part of the CD are Emile Barnes, Baby Dodds, Kid Clayton and Billie and De De Pierce. The Six and Seven-Eighths String Band of New Orleans are also part of the recordings as are more musical surprises.
The Smithsonian Folkways 'Classic Sounds of New Orleans' CD has something for everyone and will entertain and educate listeners both in New Orleans and around the world. It's almost like a visit to a New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 10 years before it first started.