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The Twenties Sweetheart

Annette Hanshaw

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Album Review

Released in 1995 on the Jasmine label, Annette Hanshaw The Twenties Sweetheart might easily be confused with Sweetheart of the Twenties, issued in 2006 by Halcyon/Sounds of Yesteryear. The two compilations have 11 titles in common. While Halcyon includes two excerpts from a Hanshaw interview with Brian Rust, the Jasmine disc contains 21 musical tracks, compared with Halcyon's fourteen. Annette Hanshaw (1901-1985) was one of the first white female singers to make authentic jazz records. She did this in collaboration with some of the best Caucasian improvisers active in New York during the '20s; had the entertainment industry's racially segregated policies not been in place, it is quite likely that she'd have collaborated regularly with some of the top Afro-American artists of the day. (This did happen once, according to Hanshaw herself, who claimed to have recorded two titles with pianists James P. Johnson and Clarence Williams in December 1929). The Twenties Sweetheart begins with the singer's two earliest commercially released records, which were cut on September 12, 1926, and closes with two titles waxed at a session that took place in May 1928. The 1926 material (tracks one-three) with accompaniments by a group fronted by trumpeter Red Nichols and trombonist Miff Mole. 1927 was a magnificent year for Hanshaw as her backing bands grew ever more solid and interesting. On tracks four and five she sings with pianist Irving Brodsky and Jimmy Lytell, a capable clarinetist who reappears on tracks 20 and 21 with pianist Rube Bloom. Tracks six-eight find Hanshaw working with the Original Memphis Five, which in this case meant Red and Miff with clarinetist George Bohn, pianist Frank Signorelli, and drummer Ray Bauduc. But the heart of this collection exists in tracks nine-fifteen, whereby Hanshaw does some of her all-time best singing in the company of a quartet billed either as Four Instrumental Stars or the Sizzlin' Syncopators. This amazing group consisted of violinist Joe Venuti, guitarist Eddie Lang, bass saxophonist Adrian Rollini (also heard playing goofus, hot fountain pen, piano, and celeste) and drummer Vic Berton who, on the cheerfully optimistic and rhythmically invigorating "I'm Somebody's Somebody Now," executes what must be the first phonographically recorded jazz tympani solo.


Born: 18 October 1901 in New York, NY

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '20s, '30s

One of the first great female jazz singers, in the late '20s Annette Hanshaw ranked near the top with Ethel Waters, the Boswell Sisters, and the upcoming Mildred Bailey. Unlike her contemporary Ruth Etting, Hanshaw could improvise and swing while also being a strong interpreter of lyrics. She was not quite 16 when she started her recording career, and her recordings (1926-1934) included such major jazz players as Red Nichols, Miff Mole, Jimmy Lytell, Adrian Rollini, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Vic Berton,...
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The Twenties Sweetheart, Annette Hanshaw
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