From the Record Shelves #56

Take My Hand, Precious Lord

LP Riverside RLP 393

The title of this LP means that the popular, tin pan alley sort of tunes is absent. Otherwise, it’s quite natural and what you expect from a New Orleans Band that they play spirituals and blues. The album, produced by Chris Albertson, was recorded in an authentic dance hall still standing then in 1961.

Ernie Cagnolatti plays a firm lead on trumpet and the fluent clarinet is played by Louis Cottrell. Band leader Jim Robinson shows what tailgate trombone is all about. Rhythmically rustic bass lines are varied with cello like smooth lines in the upper register. Robinson who learned to play as a soldier in the first world war had a first career in Sam Morgans jazz band in the 1920s and started his second one by participating in the first revival session with Kid Rena in 1940. After that he became one of the most recorded trombone players in the style.

The support from the drummer Alfred Williams is essential to lift the ensemble at the end of the number and the other two in the rhythm section are George Guesnon and Alcide Pavageau on banjo and bass.

The tune is a favorite of mine and was written by Georgia Tom, a blues and hokum jazz singer and pianist who changed direction in life and became Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey. This happened around 1932 after he had lost his wife and daughter. He has since often been called the “father of gospel music”.