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Frog (BK081)

182 page soft-bound book, including a free 27 track CD that features Alabama Washboard Stompers, Meade Lux Lewis, Piron’s New Orleans Orchestra, Jelly Roll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers, Russell’s Hot Six, Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell, Bessie Smith, Tarter And Gay, Gus Cannon, King Oliver & His Dixie Syncopators, Louise Vant, Fats Waller, Clara Smith, Son House, Willie Brown, Mae Glover, Dixie Washboard Band, Bob & Roy, New Orleans Feetwarmers, Washboard Serenaders and Tampa Red

The latest in the eagerly-anticipated series of Frog Blues & Jazz Annuals, a series that started strongly and just seems to get better and better. This time around there are even more pages to drool over - up to 182 packed pages. And, with an expansion of pages, there are even more juicy original articles featured than ever before.

With such a diversity of interests and approaches on show it is unlikely that many will be interested in, or value, all articles equally. Some will be drawn to the more serious-minded attempts to enlighten and inform our understanding of jazz and blues history through the presentation of new facts (or re-interpretation of previously published information). Others will be drawn to the less-weighty personal reminiscences and enthusiasms presented by some writers. But whether it is Bruce Bastin’s detailed, measured and well-referenced overview of the Atlanta Blues scene or the brief but amusing recollection of how a fan acquired one of Fats Waller’s silk ties, there is plenty on offer within these pages for everyone with any interest in early period jazz and blues to really enjoy. And, if you want to take a short break from the difficult task of all that reading, there is always the impressive array of colour and black and white photographs and assorted artworks to peruse. The impressive array of photography and artwork presented either supplements the articles themselves or acts as visual ephemera (such as period piece adverts to promote forthcoming live appearances or record releases) to be enjoyed along the way.

And, linked to the artists covered in the articles of the book, there is also a fabulous free CD to enjoy, mixing relatively well-known tracks by significant artists with lesser known sides and even some previously unissued test pressings. I have particularly been enjoying a few tracks previously unknown by me, including Bob & Roy’s piano and trombone duet, The Trombone Slide, and the Washboard Serenaders lively Tappin’ The Time Away. But, as we have come to expect from Frog CDs, all 27 tracks are well-chosen and sound just great.

With so much material being generated for these splendid Annuals, the good news is that the Endpiece to this highly enjoyable publication concludes with a commitment to get cracking shortly on Annual No. 5. Obviously this won’t come out any time soon but it’s comforting to know as we delve deeper and deeper into the series that another one will one day be here to join it.

Review Date: August 2015

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