From the Record Shelves #69

Ash Tray Blues

LP Biograph BLP-12042

Papa Charlie Jackson (November 10, 1887 – May 7, 1938) has always been a favorite of mine. His strong voice, his swing, his control over his instrument the six-string banjo, his wit, the intelligent lyrics and his coolness makes him stand out as a performer.

Still, at the time of this LP release in 1972 he was not given the attention he deserves. I guess that part of the reason is that he did not fit in a hundred percent in neither the jazz nor the blues idioms. As a blues man he recorded duets with Ma Rainey and Ida Cox and even a couple with Blind Blake and in the jazz field he participated by singing on some classic recordings with fellow men from New Orleans, among others the cornet player Freddie Keppard.

In advertisements for his recording company Paramount Records he is sometimes described as singer of “comedy” songs and on this number recorded in 1928 as singer of a “sentimental” song.

There was a good Danish musician here called Freddie Poulsen that used to sing and play this song with his four-string banjo when I started to go to the jazz clubs as a kid, and later I heard the Finnish bizarre performer M.A. Numminen playing a six-string banjo obviously inspired by Papa Charlie.

In fact, Jackson is considered the first one who made records with his own accompaniment paving the way for the great blues performers of the 1920s and among his most successful songs we find Shake That Thing and Salty Dog.