From the Record Shelves #240

Close Fit Blues

VJM Records VLP 37

In Clarence Williams rich output of records between 1927 and the Depression, there are two distinct kinds: the washboard bands and the ones with a tuba, and this LP has material from the latter category.

The aim with which Williams succeeds so well is to make a small band sound bigger. The two outstanding stars of the groups are Ed Allen with a big tone in his cornet, and Cyrus St. Clair with probably the most sonorous sound from a brass bass ever heard on a jazz record. The banjo player Leroy Harris also had the qualities of good sound and swinging rhythm.

This tune was recorded three times with different cornet players but with the same arrangement.

First two choruses of muted cornet, starting high in the register, then a clarinet duet, a change of key with a trombone solo by Ed Cuffee and then the highlight of the approximately three minutes. Now you may be listening through your telephone, but if you take the trouble to connect to a sound system or use headphones, you will hear how magnificently Cyrus St. Clair fills the bass register with his twelve-bar solo.

The riff chorus that follows that is played twice has a certain nostalgic quality, and the intensity is raised in a subtle way.

Clarence Williams groups were for the most part studio groups, and Ed Allen was with Leroy Tibbs Orchestra and Cyrus St. Clair was with Charlie Johnson at the time.