« The ideal present » par Blues & Rytmn

It is a purely personal thing but I have always tended to associate the likes of Jimmy Rushing, Hot Lips Page and Cousin Joe with French album releases, as in the seventies that seemed to be the only way of getting blues-credible vintage material by these singers, long before the jazzier side of the blues had much of a following over here. This set, the brainchild of veteran researcher Jacques Morgantini, who both compiled and annotated the CD, is actually intended as more of an educative tool – to stop people shouting out “Oh, play it man” at the wrong time, or (vain hope) clapping on the beat, not that anyone would attempt to do that with the rather fearsome looking teacher on the cover in front of them! – and it is a little akin to the old “Story Of The Blues” sets compiled by Paul Oliver, although this is a rather more technical examination of various types of blues and separates the music into specific sub-genres based on factors other that geography or history. In actual fact though, it functions as a rather nice introduction to blues in the forties (for the most part), the Rushing/Basie and Hot Lips Page sides partly explaining how r&b came about, Leroy Carr from 1928 segueing into the Bluebird Beat which in turn leads into Muddy and Lightnin´s more down-home styles and the likes of Big Joe Turner, Bessie Smith and Albert Ammons keeping the jazz stylings in the blues. It is not the programming that leads listener to make these connections, however; the notes do point him or her in the right direction. “The aim of this CD is to present only the truly authentic blues, rooted in the very being of Afro-Americans´ it states in a little note on the sleeve – at one time that might have seemed pretentious, now it seems laudable indeed. All the material has been out before, but whilst Classics and the like are busy giving us complete recorded works, as the perception of the blues changes, there is perhaps even more of a need now for this kind of set. Thirty years or so ago I looked to France for this kind of music – this admirable CD shows that despite the competition, our counterparts on the other side of “La Manche” can still do this stuff best when they put their minds to it. With Christmas coming up, this would be the ideal present for someone who has shown some interest in the blues already but is wary of older material.