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JUST SOME OF THE MANY THINGS PEOPLE SAID ABOUT The Frog Blues & Jazz Annual No 3

Christopher Henderson (Financial Times)
As with previous volumes – there is rational balance of scholars and enthusiasts producing a plethora of detailed information from the golden recording era of pre-war Americana. A plentiful supply of Blues and Jazz, discography, period advertising, record labels and beautifully reproduced photographs fill the packed pages.

Among the contents- are Marty Grosz remembering his times with hot trumpeter Lee Collins, Clarrie Henley looks at Louis & Jelly Roll, while enthusiast Richard Rains dissects the music of the legendary horn player Freddie Keppard.

The highlights include some in-depth research by editor Paul Swinton in a fascinating examination of Kansas City pioneer Winston Holmes & his Merritt Record label and Bruce Bastin’s study of medicine show and vaudeville performers, Richard Linster tracks down blues-woman Ruth Willis, while Gayle Dean Wardlow moves to more familiar territory with more Robert Johnson connections.

There is so much more in this truly stunning production.. with a surplus of glorious photographs and enough brilliant in-depth articles to keep even the most ardent of early blues and jazz students busy until next year’s arrival.

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Bill Boazman (Blue Spirit Records – London, U.K.)
The material on Lonnie Johnson alone – was enough to blow me away – a truly great addition to this brilliant and priceless series..

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Paul Willies (Jazz & Blues Collective)
A long time coming – but well worth the wait. Wow! This really is the most spectacular volume so far. I can’t put it down…  so far I have particularly enjoyed the extensive sections on Louis & Lil Armstrong & Cow Cow ….  Nice to see that Swinton, Bastin, Wardlow and a host of other writers can still produce such brilliant research about a music made so long ago. Let’s be honest…this is everything that ‘Storyville’ & ‘78 Quarterly’ ever wanted to be. So much in it, fascinating from cover to cover…. Dare I ask.. when is number 4 coming?

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John Wilby (Jazz Oracle – Toronto, Canada)
Many thanks for sending the Annuals…I received my copies yesterday after a couple of days of fighting with the courier company over delivery.   The Annual is gorgeous!!  Congratulations on another beautiful production.  As John RT would say, “Have a glass of accolades!”

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Ken Romanowski (Long Island, N.Y.)
Another fine and classy volume of esoterica

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Barry McCann Independent reviews on Amazon and Ebay
Sometimes a publication comes along which is so good that no reviewer can do it justice before running out of superlatives. If you’ve purchased one or both of the earlier volumes you’ll know exactly what I mean. If not, read on and find out what you’ve been missing. The product itself shouts quality from its high gloss pages, which are packed with rare photographs, reproductions of advertisements, record labels, and illustrations.

These serve to illuminate the wide-ranging articles, many of which are arranged in an organic form. For example, Lil Armstrong’s reminiscences about Louis are followed by a letter from Louis to bassist Hayes Alvis, an account by Kaiser Marshall of when Louis came to New York, and a highly critical review of Louis’ concert at the London Palladium in July 1932.  Similarly, an article about “Cow Cow” Davenport’s last years and late recordings leads into a 1944 interview with the pianist, followed by an appreciation by Jasper Wood. Other articles examine the quality of Freddie Keppard’s playing, and the role of Fate Marable in taking jazz upstream.

On the blues side, articles include an appreciation of the role of African-American fiddlers on early phonograph records, an analysis of Big Bill Broonzy’s influence on Texas blues, an examination of the death of Peetie Wheatstraw, a detailed discography of the 1928 Tommy Johnson/Ishman Bracey sessions for Victor, and the history of the Meritt record label. And that’s not the half of it! Accompanying this visual feast is an aural delight in the shape of a 25-track CD of rare recordings..

This is an illuminated treasury of a bygone age, which I cannot recommend too highly.

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Dave Blueghost, (Pasadena, CA)
The magnificent book and cd arrived yesterday. Thanks so much for your wonderful work. A job well done !       Love that Stalebread article.  

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Tom Willis – (New Orleans, LA)
I didn’t think it possible but this is as good as the last one. Every page I turn fills me with celebral delight and visual over-load.. Winston Holmes, Satchmo, Jelly Roll, Daddy Stovepipe, Poor Boy Lofton, Mamie Smith, ‘Stalebread’, Cow Cow, Lee Collins, etc etc etc.. where ya get this stuff? And what are you trying to do, give me a ******* heart attack? Absolutely superb. Thank you, thank you. But don’t sit on your laurels, Paul – I need number four!

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Ray Templeton (Blues & Rhythm Magazine, Christmas 2013)
The third Frog Blues & Jazz Annual is at least as good as the previous two, and if you’ve seen those, you’ll know that this is pretty much recommendation enough. It’s the same mixture of research, discography, history and beautifully reproduced illustrations – a real quality production finished to the highest standards. When you pick up a publication like this, you feel reassured about the future of print. I’m a great lover and advocate of the wealth of electronic resources that we can now access with the click of a mouse, but an item like this is just such a lovely thing to hold and page through. For many of us, I suspect, that’s an experience that will never be digitally replaced. It also offers considerable reasons to be cheerful that there’s still a future for blues research – that even at this late date, there’s still scope to find out new information about artists who recorded many decades ago, both through official records and even through first- hand reminiscences.

Micheal Hortig sheds reliable light on the circumstances surrounding the death of Thunder Smith (beaten to death with a plank) quoting from witness accounts and even showing us the police diagram of the crime scene. Richard Linster’s substantial piece on Ruth Willis recounts his labyrinthine quest through census records, city street directories, death certificates etc, but also the surprising results of information gleaned through personal contact with people who knew Willis’s family. Rob Ford’s piece on the singer and film actress Roberta Dudley draws on his exhausted research in the pages of the African American press of her day and other sources, showing how the story of even quite an obscure artist who recorded only two sides in 1922 can be pieced together all these years later.

And there is so much more – outstanding work by Hortig and Eric Trickey on Cow Cow Davenport’s last years, a detailed examination by Richard Rains of Freddie Keppard’s recorded legacy, David Butters on Fate Marable, Alex van der Tuuk on Moanin’ Bernice Edwards. For the more discographically inclined, there’s a listing of the Victor 38500 Race Series….  …. And before this turns into nothing more than a contents list in prose, I’ll stop – but be assured that there’s plenty more that I haven’t mentioned, and the high standards scarcely slip for a moment.

And as in previous years there’s a compilation CD of rare and unissued tracks that illustrate the printed contents all reproduced to outstanding sound quality on which Frog Records have built their enviable reputation among collectors – from Tommy Johnson’s ‘Canned Heat Blues’ sounding better than you’ve ever heard it before, to a previously unissued test by Thunder Smith, only discovered last year. And 23 more mouth watering morsels. 

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Pete Lay (January 2014 Book Review for Just Jazz magazine. U.K.)
In an era when it appears many of our finest jazz musicians are leaving us for a ‘higher ground’, the same applies to many of our acknowledged jazz scribes and collectors. That loss made Editor Paul Swinton’s job a lot harder when it came to publishing his third ‘tome’ in honour of the 78 era, a time when jazz and blues was being born, bred and formulated.

However, although delayed from its proposed release, this third annual is a magical insight into many aspects of that era, a time when ‘our heroes’ were in full swing.

Space prevents me from an analytic synopsis of the book, but the reader can be reassured that every article is painstakingly written, full of facts, stories, quotes, and some wonderful photographs, of which many haven’t seen the light of day in other books.

I did spot one or two proof reading errors but I’ll not quibble too much as we have the same problem with our own magazine. Buy a copy and see if you can find them, and in doing so, you’ll unearth a wonderfully produced book and the reader will be a lot wiser about certain aspects of their favourite music.

Even some of our Revival heroes get an article written about them, Sammy Rimington, Ken Colyer, and George Lewis amongst them.

Ever wondered who played second cornet on Jelly Roll Morton’s Sidewalk Blues or were you even aware of that? Do you want to know about Big Bill Broonzy and the Texas Blues, or Emile ‘Stalebread’ Lacombe, or Freddie Keppard’s recordings, and Marty Grosz’ recalling his memories of Lee Collins. Just some of the excellent writings in this book!

Accompanying the book is a CD with twenty five tracks from artists who are featured in the annual. There are some rarities, some previously unheard, and one or two favourites, all wonderfully re-mastered by the team at FROG Records.

If this annual is your first purchase, let me remind you that No 1 and 2 are still available from FROG Records…

It is a first class, enjoyable, educational, and interesting book that is a must for all our readers.

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Tony Chilcott (Red Lick Records)
The third in a mouth-watering series that brings together specially commissioned articles and rare period photographs, advertising artwork and other visual ephemera to tell the tale of the book's sub title - The Musicians, The Records & The Music Of The 78 Era. And, just like the first and second editions…this makes a sizeable contribution to our understanding and enjoyment of the period. Within 176 glossy pages, there are over 30 separate articles of interest, written by well-known and not-so-well known blues and jazz scholars, enthusiasts and record label owners including Bob Groom, Gayle Dean Wardlow, Bruce Bastin, Alex Van der Tuuk, Max Haymes, Marshall Wyatt and more (even Paul Swinton is somehow able to take time out from editing the whole shebang by contributing his own article on Winston Holmes). And the subject areas tackled are dizzyingly diverse, ranging from appreciations of particular artists (Cow Cow Davenport, Roberta Dudley, Big Bill Broonzy, Ruth Willis, Thunder Smith, Duke Ellington & The Washingtonians, Freddie Keppard, etc), influential record company executives and entrepreneurs, specific label releases and particular events and incidents otherwise lost to history.

And if this ain't enough to keep you going, you also get a fantastic 25 track CD thrown in - featuring rare and little- known sides from artists featured in the book and many more, including Moanin' Bernice Edwards, Louis Armstrong, Lee Collins, South Memphis Jug Band, Julia Lee, Charlie Burse, Leadbelly and more.

I have only had this a few days and I'm finding it hard to leave alone. What better recommendation can I offer?. 

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Written by WebMaster FrogRecords — January 23, 2014

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