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Walter Roland

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Despite a relatively prolific recording career which yielded upwards of 40 solo sides in addition to a series of celebrated collaborations with vocalist Lucille Bogan, pianist/singer Walter Roland remains one of the blues' most elusive and mysterious figures. Likely born in or around Birmingham, AL, circa 1900, he first emerged on the city's blues circuit during the 1920s, presumably running in the same circles as the equally enigmatic pianist Jabo Williams; a skilled, versatile pianist whose repertoire ran the gamut from slow, gut-wrenching blues to exuberant boogie-woogies, Roland was also a persuasive vocalist and even a fine guitarist. He went to New York City three times between 1933 and 1935 to record for ARC; during this same period he also accompanied Bogan (by now calling herself Bessie Jackson), additionally recording with Sonny Scott and Josh White. After 1935, however, Roland seems to have dropped off the face of the earth -- his subsequent activities and ultimate fate remain unknown. ~ Jason Ankeny

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1900 in Birmingham, AL

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