Here's a quick look at some bluesy wimmin singers and musicians who rock my world. I'll try to keep these recommendations a little off the beaten track, just so the page will be a little more fun. But I'm sure I'll work in a gal or two whose name will ring a bell as well...

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Mildred Bailey - see artist profile

Blue Lu Barker "The Chronological Blue Lu Barker: 1938-1939" (Classics, 1997)

Blue Lu Barker "The Chronological Blue Lu Barker: 1946-1949" (Classics, 1994)

Blue Lu Barker/Various Artists "Don't You Feel My Leg" (Delmark, 1996)
A risque blues collection, with vintage tracks by Barker, along with similar material by Wee Bea Booze and Baby Dee...

Blue Lu Barker "Live At The New Orleans Jazz Festival" (1998)
Performing live with her husband Danny Barker and his Jazz Hounds...

Ivy Benson "...And Her All Girls Band" (Harlequin, 2000)
The rise of "all-girl" bands in WWII-era America is pretty well documented, with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm being the iconic band of the genre. Less well-known are their British contemporaries, who also took up the slack in the homefront nightclub scene, as the the menfolk went off to war. Bandleader Ivy Benson was one of the most successful female musicians of her time, leading a pretty solid band right up through the 1960s, well after the big band era had collapsed back in the States. These recordings, from 1943-49 singles and radio broadcasts, are not the most dazzling or top-flight dance band material, but they are charming and nostalgic, and capture a nice slice of sweet band history, which would otherwise have slid from memory long, long ago. Certainly worth checking out.

Ivy Benson "You Danced To These Bands" (Castle, 2001)

The Boswell Sisters "Brunswick, Volume 1" (Sony Special Products/Collectables, 1982/2000)
The Boswell Sisters "Brunswick, Volume 2" (Sony Special Products/Collectables, 1982/2000)

While pop fans are far more likely to remember the boodliaksaki of the Andrews Sisters, it was the Boswells -- Connee, Martha and Helvetia -- who pioneered the dazzling group sound of the female swing trio, with a career that began in the 1920s. Jazz fans readily point out that, while the Andrews gals copied the Boswell Sisters harmonies to near-perfection, the Boswells always had a much headier, jazzier sound. These early tracks, made on the Brunswick label in the early 1930s, along with the Dorsey Brothers and their crew, certainly make the case that the Boswell Sisters had a real feel for the blues and could swing with the best of them. Plus, with instrumental assist by the likes of the Dorseys, Bunny Berigan and Eddie Lang, how could they go wrong? Great stuff! If you haven't heard these gals already, then check these albums out. Their later work is great, too -- as time went on, they only got better and better!

The Boswell Sisters "It's The Girls!" (ASV Living Era, 1982)
A stellar set of their early recordings, mainly from from 1930-31, when they were signed to the Brunswick label, and two songs that span back to 1925(!), when they took their first, ill-fated stab at cutting a single for Victor Records. The uniqueness and vibrancy of their style is readily apparent in every track on this album. Backing the Boswells on various tracks are Victor Young, an early incarnation of the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, and on several tracks made for Okeh Records, sprightly piano accompaniment by Martha Boswell. As with other ASV collections, the song selection and pacing of the disc are quite nice. Recommended!

The Boswell Sisters "Syncopating Harmonists From New Orleans" (Take Two, 1992)
The first nine tracks on this collection are from their 1930 appearances on the California-based Continental Broadcasting radio show, the rest of the disc is taken from various old 78s, and a couple of tunes from a 1935 radio show that was sponsored by Dodge. The often casual sound of their live performances lays bare the sweet, professional style of their music, and gives a glimpse into their creative process. This is a digital-era repackaging of some of Take Two's fine old vinyl LPs.

The Boswell Sisters "The Boswell Sisters Collection, v.1" (Nostalgia Arts, 2000)

The Boswell Sisters "The Boswell Sisters Collection, v.2" (Nostalgia Arts, 2000)

The Boswell Sisters "The Boswell Sisters Collection, v.3" (Nostalgia Arts, 2000)

The Boswell Sisters "The Boswell Sisters Collection, v.4" (Nostalgia Arts, 2000)

The Boswell Sisters "The Boswell Sisters Collection, v.5" (Nostalgia Arts, 2000)

The Boswell Sisters "Airshots And Rarities: 1930-1935" (Challenge, 1997)

Connee Boswell "Deep In A Dream" (Harlequin, 1996)
A nice look at the solo work of Connee Boswell, the driving force behind the fab 1920s/'30s vocal group, The Boswell Sisters. The Boswells were the prototype for the tight harmonies of the Andrew Sisters, and as for Connee herself, no less a jazz goddess than Ella Fitzgerald is quoted here as saying, "Connie Boswell was the only singer who influenced me..." When the band broke up, she went solo and eventually coasted into more sedate pop vocals material. This disc features old singles, V-Discs and radio transcriptions, with backing by the likes of Bunny Berigan, Bob Crosby, Bob's big brother Bing, The Dorsey Brothers, and others. It's nice material, and still punchier than her later work in the 'Fifties would be. This disc might be hard to track down, but if you're into the Boswell Sisters, then it's a must-have.

Connee Boswell "Heart & Soul" (ASV-Living Era, 1997)

Connee Boswell "They Can't Take These Songs Away From Me" (Jasmine, 2002)
A 2-CD set...

Connee Boswell "Singing The Blues With Connee Boswell" (Sepia, 2006)

Hadda Brooks "That's Where I Came In" (Virgin, 1994)

Hadda Brooks "Jump Back Honey: The Complete Okeh Sessions" (Sony, 1997)

Hadda Brooks "Romance In The Dark" (Ace, 2004)

Hadda Brooks "Volume 2: Swingin' The Boogie" (Ace, 2004)

Hadda Brooks "That's Where I Came In" (Ace, 2005)

Hadda Brooks "Time Was When" (Virgin, 1996)

Bessie Brown & George Bryant "Complete Recorded Works, v.1" (Document)

Bessie Brown & George Bryant "Complete Recorded Works, v.2: 1925-1930" (Document, 1997)

Bessie Brown "Complete Recorded Works: 1925-1929" (Document, 1996)

Precious Bryant "The Truth" (Terminus, 2005)

Precious Bryant "Fool Me Good" (Terminus, 2005)

Precious Bryant "My Name Is Precious" (Music Maker, 2005)

Butterbeans & Susie "Complete Recorded Works, v.1: 1924-1925" (Document, 1997)

Butterbeans & Susie "Complete Recorded Works, v.2: 1926-1927" (Document, 1997)

Butterbeans & Susie "Elevator Papa, Switchboard Mama" (JSP, 2004)

Butterbeans & Susie "Butterbeans & Susie" (GHB, 2006)

Butterbeans & Susie "Butterbeans & Susie" (Classic Jazz, 2008)

More Swingin' Gals -- Letter "C"

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