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Wynonie Harris: 1945-1947

Even if you’re not primarily a blues fan, you might want to check out this CD, which has plenty of fine instrumental work on it. Harris broke in with Lucky Millinder and Lionel Hampton in the mid-’40s and later became a R&B star. He’s a top blues shouter, and shows it here on five sessions, including one where he sings duets with his influence, Joe Turner.

On the first he’s with Hampton sidemen. In addition to his consistently fine singing, there’s a two-part version of “Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop” that contains a nice tenor sax exchange and duet by Arnett Cobb and Herbie Fields. The erratic Fields turns in surprisingly good clarinet work on “Good Morning Corinne.” In ’46 Harris recorded in Nashville with a band that included Sun Ra, then known as Herman “Sonny” Blount. On what may be his first recorded appearance he plays boogie-style, something that might’ve been required for the date. Later in ’46 Harris was with a band including top swing and, bop improvisers, trumpeter Joe Newman, altoman Tab Smith, tenor player Allen Eager and guitarist Mary Osborne. All of them contribute inspired work, with Eager in especially good form. On the Harris/Turner tracks both men perform with power and humor.

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