Here’s volume three of Ace’s ongoing survey of the sounds heard throughout Los Angeles’ thriving black community during the late 1940s and early 1950s, as brought by a man whose recording operation was centred right at its heart – Vernon “Jake” Porter. The music that came out on his Combo label is almost always representative of its surroundings, and of that population’s taste. Within the walls of his home studio Jake Porter oversaw the production of a lot of fantastic music and, as the owners of his catalogue, Ace is committed to bringing you the best of it, via compilations such as this month’s COOL DADDY.
cast of characters, as the majority of them have already appeared on either “Straight To Watts” or “Central Rocks”. New ‘recruits’ this time around include a very young sounding Bill Watkins and a not-so-young sounding Joe Morris – who, both annotator Jim Dawson and I suspect to be the same Joe Morris whose orchestra hit big with Anytime, Any Place, Anywhere as the 40s drew to a close. We also feature one side that transplanted Texas bluesman Peppermint Harris cut for Combo, during the briefest of stays in Jake’s musical stock company. And, by way of complete contrast, we also feature an early example of ‘rap’, via one side of an extremely rare 45 rpm recitation by DJ Hunter Hancock’s radio sidekick Margie Williams. As Jim Dawon note points out, this never stood a chance of becoming a hit as ‘Ol’ HH’ was the only DJ who was likely to play it.
As well as being heard as the guitarist on many of these sessions, it’s always great to be able to bring you Gene Phillips in his own right, and here is the previously unheard Steelin’ The Blues. We never need any excuse to reissue the groovy saxophony of Jack McVea, either. He and his band can be heard backing a variety of vocalists throughout “Cool Daddy”, ranging from big blues-shouters like the veteran piano ponder Christine Chatman and McVea’s own missus, Louise Beatty, to impassioned wailers such as the terminally obscure Rudy Pitts. We also get the chance to hear him out-Bostic Earl, on a fruity blast through the standard Oh How I Miss You Tonight.
We feature a couple of sides that shine a spotlight on Jake Porter himself and hear from Jake’s other bandleader mainstays Floyd Turnham and Chuck Higgins – who is the subject of his own Combo anthology next month. There’s also an instrumental from Jake’s other sax king, Joe Houston, with a never-before-heard alternate of his great grinder Shuckin’.
Nellie Lutcher’s chum Betty Hall Jones gives a neat female spin on Louis Jordan’s Outskirts Of Town saga, while we’re also happy to put the flip of Honey Coleman’s sole Combo record back into catalogue after a short gap of 55 years. Also pretty cool is Candy Rivers and her occasional singing chum (and ace session guitarist) Chuck Hamilton’s jazzy spin on the standard Please Be Kind, which is getting its first airing anywhere.
These are just a few of the many delights that await you when you crack the cellophane and stick “Cool Daddy!” in your CD player. Even though it’s the third volume it more than upholds the standard of the first two – and we can promise you that next year’s volume will be of similarly high quality.
By Tony Rounce