Reference: FSRCD 668
Bar code: 8427328606684
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Tenor saxophonist Eddie Lockjaw Davis group gives Al Smith and Mildred Anderson sympathetic backing in these two fine albums recorded for the Prestige/Bluesville label in 1959 and 1960.
Smith, whose bold style was greatly influenced by the Gospel tradition, had the earthy quality often found in the best blues artists. His singing ranges from full-voiced and declamatory to intimate and confidential, but it always carried a charge of vitality that jolts the listener into full awareness. Mildred Anderson possesses a very individual Blues style, neither haunting, nor painful and filled with nostalgia, and certainly not the pretty, dressed up Blues then in vogue. Hers is the rough-hewn, pay-youback, swinging blues, direct, forceful and unsentimental.
Shirley Scott, Wendell Marshall, George Duvivier, and Arthur Edgehill drive powerfully, while on both sessions Jaws brings his huge, bustling highly vocalized tenor to bear with idiomatic authority on the material.
"Blues shouter Mildred Anderson is barely known today. The singer first gained visibility when she recorded 'Doin' the Boogie Woogie' with pianist Albert Ammons for Mercury in April 1948. Singles with trumpeter Hot Lips Page followed in 1951 and with organist Bill Doggett for King in 1953. These latter sessions produced "No More in Life," her biggest hit.
Anderson grew up in Brooklyn and sang at the Antioch Baptist Church choir. After graduation from Girls High School in 1946, she worked at New York clubs, and her nearly three years with Doggett taught her everything she needed to know about organ combos and the blues. In the 1950s, she shuttled between clubs in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as a single attraction.
In 1959, Prestige Records founder Bob Weinstock launched his Bluesville subsidiary. The fourth album recorded for the label a year later was Anderson's "Person to Person." Producer Esmond Edwards had the brilliant vision to pair her with the most perfect quartet imaginable: Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (ts), Shirley Scott (org), George Duvivier (b) and Arthur Edgehill (d).
All four of these artists were flavorful and tough blues players and, as you'll hear, completely at home on the session. The songs chosen were solid and little known: I'm Gettin' Long Alright, I'm Free, Don't Deceive Me (Please Don't Go), Anderson's own Hello Little Boy, Person to Person, Cool Kind of Poppa, Kidney Stew Blues and I Didn't Have a Chance.
Her vocal approach was all in, with soul, a touch of church and lots of authentic blues feel. Now add the rest: Lockjaw lays it on thick on solos, Scott's organ hammers out one groove after the next, and Duvivier's bass and Edgehill's drums stir it all up. A shame this group didn't record another bunch of albums.
Other than "No More in Life," an album Anderson recorded later that year for Bluesville backed by a group led by saxophonist Al Sears, she never recorded again, at least according to the Jazz Discography. What a shame. "Person to Person" remains one of my favorite jazz-blues albums. And now it will be one of yours."
—Marc Myers (October 4, 2023)