Enslaved peoples were brought to the Americas from many places in Africa, but a large majority came from relatively few ethnic groups. Drawing on a wide range of materials in four languages as well as on her lifetime study of slave groups in the New World, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall explores the persistence of African ethnic identities among the enslaved over four hundred years of the Atlantic slave trade. …
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Juanita Hall is best-known for being a stage actress, playing Bloody Mary in South Pacific. However on this 1958 set for Counterpoint, she shows that she could effectively sing blues. Mostly sticking to songs from the Bessie Smith songbook (including "You've Been a Good Old Wagon," "Gimme a Pigfoot" and "Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out"), Hall's extroverted and shouting style fit the music quite well. Pianist Claude Hopkins arranged for the sextet and gathered quite an all-star backup group that includes tenor-saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, clarinetist Buster Bailey and trumpeter Doc Cheatham. Well worth getting.
This fine club date features guitarist Jim Hall in Toronto with two of the top Canadian jazzmen, bassist Don Thompson and drummer Terry Clarke. The interplay between the three players is sometimes wondrous, and although the five selections are all familiar standards (such as "'Round Midnight," "Scrapple From the Apple" and "The Way You Look Tonight"), Hall makes the music sound fresh and full of subtleties. This enjoyable LP has yet to be reissued on CD.