Juanita Hall was Bloody Mary in the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. She won a Tony Award for the vigor and warmth of her performance, which was unforgettable. What she could not forget, however, was how the blues recordings of Bessie Smith had mesmerized her when she was a girl. Nearly a decade after her Broadway triumph, she finally disclosed the blues in her soul. Hall went into a studio with a corps of brilliant jazz musicians to record an album of blues inspired by Smith. It seems to have been her only recorded foray into the idiom, and the authenticity of her renditions was a revelation. The band supporting and abetting her included the tenor saxophone giant Coleman Hawkins and trumpeter Doc Cheatham, long before Cheatham’s celebrated renaissance. Hall’s blues adventure was gloriously captured in early two-track stereo.
with Claude Hopkins, Coleman Hawkins, Doc Cheatham, Buster Bailey, George Duvivier, Jimmy Crawford