The most complete Ry Cooder discography in the Universe
Image from Ry Cooder web site
Warner K56488
Ry Cooder

  1. Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
  2. Face To Face That I Shall Meet Him
  3. The Pearls/Tia Juana
  4. The Dream
  5. Happy Meeeting In Glory
  6. In A Mist
  7. Flashes
  8. Davenport Blues
  9. Shine
  10. Nobody
  11. We Shall Be Happy

Produced by : Ry Cooder and Joseph Byrd

Musicians :

Album Design : Mike Salisbury Session Photographs : Susan Titelman


By the late 1930s Jelly Roll Morton's music was cosidered old fashioned and obsolete. In fact, his "Slow Drag" ragtime and sedate band arrangements were out of step with mainstream jazz by the time Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines recorded together in 1928. But in looking back, it seems that his creole melodies and rhythms are closely connected to the Caribbean with its mixture of African, French, Spanish and Mexican people.
"The Dream" (c. 1880) is a slow-drag, whore-house number; popular with the musicians of the generation before Morton. They called it "Spanish" because of its tango or habaniera beat. (The habaniera had previously arrived in the Caribbean from West Africa.) Morton liked that sound and wrote several "Spanish" pieces, like "Tia Juana", "Mamanita" and "The Crave"; they sound a lot like the Society Quadrilles and Merengues of Haiti, or the calypso jazz of Trinidad. Morton's "The Pearls" and "Tia Juana" are played together here in a string band style that was popular in Mexico, Cuba, and later Hawaii. String groups using mandolins, guitars, Colombian tiples and violins were common all through the south in Morton's time, and probably drew from the same repertoire of 19th Century popular songs and hymns as the early brass bands that began playing in a jazz style around 1890 or 1900.
The Bahamian guitarist, Joseph Spence, today plays old hymns and sacred songs so transformed ans syncopated that even his wife, Louise, has trouble singing along with him. His style suggests a link between early brass and string band jazz; he plays with a strong parade beat, using tuba-like bass lines, two-part melody and crazily punctuated blues line for effect. The three traditional church pieces in this album are played by the string/brass group according to Spence's syncopated missionary style, in which he plays everything from "Jingle Bells" to "Silent Night". If Louise complains that his sacred numbers are too wild and radical, Spence will tell you that "Some fellows don't know anything about music"; (shades of Jelly Roll) and that his way is "more goodish".
"Shine" has been recorded over the years by nearly everybody, but rarely in its original form. Ford Dabney and Cecil Mack wrote it around 1910, at the close of the "Coon Song Era", and it is a unique coent on that genre's black face sensibilities. "Shine" passed into the jazz tradition mostly without the introductory verse that really explains what the song is all about. The idea here was to reconstruct it in a 52nd Street - small band - setting.
The great Bert Williams was the first black artist to reach crossover stardom in Vaudeville. He would appear on stage in a broken-down tuxedo and black face, (as if to mark the passing of Coon songs and minstrelsesy), and recite his sardonic, double-edged monologues. He got star billing with Ziegfield, incredible for the times (c. 1910-1920), and his Columbia records like "Nobody" and "Samuel the Night Porter" were big sellers.
Bix Biederbecke, of Davenport, Iowa, learned cornet from some of the earliest jaz records and first-hand from the first jazz players to come north from New Orleans. By the time of his death in 1931 at 29, he was a legend among his fellow musicians for his beautiful cornet music. But he was also interested in concert piano and particularly in the impressionistic style that Gershwin later became associated with. "Davenport Blues", "Flashes" and "In A Mist" are represented here in a salon-jazz context that brings out the atmosphere of Bix's strange music.
The idea behind this album was that there has always been a lot going on in the periphery of popular jazz trends. We wanted to provide a thread of alternative jazz settings to some great music that falls within the one hundred year scope of jazz in America.

More than any other contemporary artists, Ry Cooder has rediscovered, and reintroduced, the rich musical traditions of America with a body of work that both celebrates those traditions and reshapes them into a sound distinctly his own. Jazz is one of Cooder's most ambitious and satisfying works - a paean to the glorious days of jazz that captures both the spirit and the genius of the pioneering jazz men of the '20s and early '30s.
A producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist and respected musicologist, Ry Cooder first attracted attention on the Southern California blues and folk circuit in the early '60s as a member of the Rising Sons. He played briefly with Jackie DeShannon, Taj Mahal and Captain Beefheart and earned a reputation as a premier sessio nplayer, thanks primarily to his distinctive slide guitar and mandolin work.
In 1970 Cooder released his self-titled debut album, a critically acclaimed work that showcased his eclectic musical range. Over the next eight years he recorded five landmark LPs: Into The Purple Valley and Boomer's Story (1972); Paradise and Lunch (1974); Chicken Skin Music (1976) and the live Show Time (1977). Together they represent a virtual catalog of American roots music, including blues, R&B, gospel, folk, minstrel, calypso, Tex-Mex and Hawaiin. Cooder's unmistakable style gave new meaning to the term "ethnic music", remaining true to the source of these sounds, while setting them in dynamic new contexts for modern ears.
Released in May of 1978, Jazz could well be considered Cooder's first "concept" album. The LP's eleven cut focus the artist's attention on a single, special musical era: the early ragtime and vaudeville traditioins of American jazz. Three of the LP's cuts - "In A Mist", "Flashes" and "Davenport Blues" - comprise a stirring tribute to the legendary cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, perfectly capturing the spare, clean arrangements that characterized his work. In contrast "Face To Face That I Shall Meet Him", "Happy Meeting In Glory" and "We Shall Be Happy" are gospel perennials adapted by Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence, one of Cooder's major influences. Other Jazz standouts include "The Pearls/Tia Juana", a Jelly Roll Morton medley, and the ragtime standard "Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now".
Cooder showcased the music of Jazz shortly after the LP's release with an historic Carnegie Hall concert featuring an orchestral group and tap dancers.

© 1978 Warner Bros. Records Inc.

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