Archive for the ‘Piano Blues’ Category

Author: Karl Gert zur Heide

Source: Doctor Jazz Magazine 205, June 2009



« For a blues fan, Cow Cow Davenport is a household name, and his « Cow Cow Blues » is a blues classic. Like jazz icon Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941), Davenport (1894/95-1955) came from the Deep South of the USA, worked as a comedian, sang and played piano, composed songs and instrumentals, entertained in brothels, and was associated with women who could also sing the blues. Both men made some of their best recordings by cutting piano rolls for the Vocalstyle company in Cincinnati – Morton in 1924, Davenport in 1925/1926.
Besides their association with “the life” (in red-light districts), they shared another habit: crisscrossing the country and the barrelhouse circuit and with vaudeville acts and minstrel shows. This essay will throw more light on the tent-show aspect of Davenport’s career.”


Author:  Alan Balfour

Source: document transmitted by A. Balfour to my attention


“Otis Spann first recorded with Muddy Waters in 1953. If we discount an isolated 1949  Johnny Jones session this was Muddy’s first recording with a pianist since his Chess debut with Sunnyland Slim in 1947. The 23-year-old Otis Spann was to hold down the  piano stool in Waters’ equally lucky band in a fruitful and unique collaboration that lasted for the next seventeen years.

Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, where he was born on March 21, 1930 to Frank  Houston Spann and Josephine Erby, Otis Spann was of a younger generation than fellow pianists Sunnyland Slim, Roosevelt Sykes or Memphis Slim, but his early musical tutelage was very similar. In Spann’s case, he was inspired to play the piano at the age of eight by a local pianist, Friday Ford: “I think he was a genius and down to the present time before he died he taught me all I know. He used to take me and put me across his knee and tell me ‘The reason you right here at the piano, ’cause I’m trying to make you play,’ but I couldn’t ’cause I was too young and my fingers wasn’t developed”,1 he affectionately recalled in 1960.”