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Album Review

The second volume in the Classics Julia Lee chronology gathers together 24 of her Capitol recordings made during the summer and autumn of 1947. Her material ranged from snappy barrelhouse novelty jump blues like "Snatch and Grab It," "King Size Papa," and Cow Cow Davenport's "Mama Don't Allow" through lazy wistful ballads and harmless pop tunes to full-fathom blues rituals like Lovie Austin's "Bleeding Hearted Blues" and Ida Cox's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." Julia Lee's take on "The Curse of an Aching Heart" is every bit as substantial as Fats Waller's. In addition to her warm voice and facile piano playing, what makes this compilation exceptionally satisfying is the presence of so many gifted jazz musicians. Kansas City's master drummer Baby Lovett is present throughout, with solid support from scintillating xylophonist Red Norvo and bassist Red Callender. The front-line horns are equally impressive: trumpeters Ernie Royal, Bobby Sherwood, and Geechie Smith; cornetist Red Nichols; trombonist Vic Dickenson; and saxophonists Benny Carter and Dave Cavanaugh. This perfectly illustrates the essential role played by seasoned jazz musicians in the development of R&B during the late '40s. Red Norvo's xylophone solos add an unusual dimension to Julia Lee's very accessible jump music.


Born: 31 October 1902 in Boonville, MO

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s

A popular entertainer who recorded frequently for Capitol during 1944-1950, Julia Lee's double-entendre songs and rocking piano made her a major attraction in Kansas City. She played piano and sang in her brother George E. Lee's Orchestra during 1920-1934, recording with him in 1927 and 1929 (including "If I Could Be with You One Hour Tonight") and cutting two titles of her own in 1929 ("He's Tall, He's Dark and He's Handsome" and "Won't You Come Over to My House"). Lee worked regularly as a single...
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1947, Julia Lee
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