Today We Bid Happy Birthday To Bessie Smith And Coco Montoya

 

 

First a taste of Ms Bessie Smith ...

 

 

 

Biography

 

” The first major blues and jazz singer on record and one of the most powerful of all time, Bessie Smith rightly earned the title of “The Empress of the Blues.” Even on her first records in 1923, her passionate voice overcame the primitive recording quality of the day and still communicates easily to today’s listeners (which is not true of any other singer from that early period). At a time when the blues were in and most vocalists (particularly vaudevillians) were being dubbed “blues singers,” Bessie Smith simply had no competition.

  Back in 1912, Bessie Smith sang in the same show as Ma Rainey, who took her under her wing and coached her. Although Rainey would achieve a measure of fame throughout her career, she was soon surpassed by her protégée. In 1920, Smith had her own show in Atlantic City and, in 1923, she moved to New York. She was soon signed by Columbia and her first recording (Alberta Hunter‘s “Downhearted Blues”) made her famous. Bessie Smith worked and recorded steadily throughout the decade, using many top musicians as sidemen on sessions including Louis Armstrong, Joe Smith (her favorite cornetist), James P. Johnson, and Charlie Green. Her summer tent show Harlem Frolics was a big success during 1925-1927, and Mississippi Days in 1928 kept the momentum going.” Continue reading

 

 

Discography

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And now some Coco Montoya …

 

 

Biography

 

” Though he grew up as a drummer and was raised on rock & roll, Coco Montoya became an outstanding blues guitarist after stints in the bands of Albert Collins and John MayallMontoya debuted as a leader in 1995 with the Blind Pig album Gotta Mind to Travel and garnered an award for Best New Blues Artist at the following year’s W.C. Handy Awards ceremonies.

  Born in Santa Monica, Montoya played drums for a local rock band that toured the region during the mid-’70s, playing in area clubs. Although he had recently been turned on to blues at an Albert King show, he was somewhat unprepared to sit in with another blues legend — “the Iceman” Albert Collins — when a bar-owner friend of Montoya invited the bluesman to play at his nightclub. Though his inexperience showed, the young drummer impressed Collins enough to hire him for a Pacific Northwest tour three months later. The tour soon ended, but the pair’s affiliation remained for more than five years, while Montoya learned much about the handling of blues guitar from “the Master of the Telecaster.” ” Continue reading

 

 

Discography

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