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Clara Smith Vol. 2 (1924)

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Album Review

Volume two in the complete works of Clara Smith as reissued by Document during the 1990s presents 21 selections recorded over a span of 11 months beginning on January 31, 1924. "My Doggone Lazy Man" preserves the kazoo technique employed by composer and pianist Porter Grainger in the company of harmonica handler Herbert Leonard and guitarist Lincoln M. Conaway. The singer's ongoing collaboration with Fletcher Henderson and members of his jazz band bore plenty of fruit during 1924, with the quintet consisting of pianist Henderson, cornetist Elmer Chambers, trombonist Teddy Nixon, clarinetist Don Redman, and banjoist Charlie Dixon identified as Clara Smith's Jazz Band on "The Chicago Blues" and "The 31st Street Blues." Henderson strummed the ukulele on tracks six, seven, eight, and ten; his rising star, tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins is heard on tracks eleven and twelve. "The Freight Train Blues" features Redman operating a mouth organ/saxophone hybrid known as the goofus; this gadget is usually associated with the adventurous exploits of multi-instrumentalist Adrian Rollini. Other players who accompany Clara Smith on this collection are Clarence Conaway, who plays ukulele on "Don't Advertise Your Man"; reed players Ernest Elliott and Cecil Scott, and pianist Charles A. Matson. In addition to the ukulele, goofus, and kazoo passages already mentioned, highlights herein include the percussive sound effects apparently generated by Porter Grainger during the sexually charged "Steel Drivin'Sam."


Born: 1894 in Spartanburg, SC

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s

One of the legendary unrelated Smith singers of the 1920s, Clara Smith was never on Bessie's level or as significant as Mamie but she had something of her own to offer. She began working on the theatre circuit and in vaudeville around 1910, learning her craft during the next 13 years while traveling throughout the South. In 1923 Clara Smith came to New York and she recorded steadily for Columbia through 1932, cutting 122 songs often with the backing of top musicians (especially after 1925) including...
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Clara Smith Vol. 2 (1924), Clara Smith
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