Friday, November 07, 2014

Listening to Prestige Records Part 49: Ralph Willis

A few strikeouts as summer of 1951 turns into fall. Weinstock recorded Johnny Green "and others" on September 3. Four songs were recorded, only two released, on the Par Presentation label, which was mostly blues. I can't find anything on Johnny Green, nor on Gene Harris (piano and vocals), recorded on September 24. Harris cut a bunch of standards, including couple of jazz standards -- "Flying Home" and "Jumping With Symphony Sid," and a tune called "Dedication to Albert Ammons," which suggests that boogie-woogie was his metier. None of them were released, except for two cuts, "Make Believe" and "Late Hour Boogie," on a Prestige 78. I found a note in a December issue of Billboard identifying it as a new rhythm and blues release on Prestige, but can't find the songs, or any other mention of Gene Harris.

 Next a more surprising omission -- a session by Red Rodney. in which eight songs were recorded and six were released, first on 78, then on a 24000-series reissue when Prestige was owned by Fantasy, and on a Fantasy reissue. But none of them to be found on Spotify or YouTube. The sessions featured Charlie Parker sound-alike Jummy Ford on alto and vocals, and it seems to have been pretty good -- Eugene Chadbourne on Allmusic says A few years later some of the best recorded documentation of this saxophonist was created when trumpeter Red Rodney, a young protégé from Parker's later groups, convened a small group for tracks originally issued as Prestige and Fantasy 78s. Which proves that Allmusic isn't infallible -- Fantasy didn't put out 78s -- but is good info anyway. But no luck hearing the tracks.

 Which brings us to October 3, and another blues session, this one by Ralph Willis. Nine songs cut, two of them issued on a 78. Available on Spotify. Very nice Piedmont blues. Willis didn't get the sort of recognition that Blind Boy Fuller or Brownie McGhee got, but he had a pretty good recording career -- all of which is on Spotify.

No comments: