Willie Bryant – Blues Around The Clock
Delmark DE 685 (1996) – Apollo Series
Willie Bryant, the mayor of Harlem, led the pit band at the Apollo Theatre in the 30s, and was emcee in the 40s when he recorded ten songs (mostly blues vocals) for Apollo. The first session, from October 15, 1945, features the Tab Smith Septette with Taft Jordan (who was with Ellington at the time) and Leonard Feather. The same day Apollo also recorded teo sides each by Laurel Watson and the much beloved songwriter Doc Pomus with the same Tab Smith group. Pomus’ two later sides, this time with his own trio, are wonderful, especially “Alley, Alley Blues.” Bryants second session (’49) is with a Bobby Smith group of Erskine Hawkins alumni including Heywood Henry, Bob Range and others. Blues Around The Clock features more fine and funky recordings from the seminal Harlem label.