Bandleader Clarence Daniels mixes jazz and blues to spectacular effect. Includes the cult collectable ‘Hard Working Girl’ with vocals by Obie “Young” Jessie and nine previously unreleased tracks.
After nearly 50 years of collectors looking for new discoveries, the well should have truly run dry. It seems unlikely we will ever again experience the glut of great tunes that emerged in the early days of northern soul and acid jazz, or even that point when the internet allowed America’s record dealers to really become available to anyone in the world. Yet the dedication of the collector still turns things up. For years bandleader Clarence Daniels’ two albums were passed over in the racks. Then a very rare Daniels single featuring vocals by Obie Jessie started to get plays in clubs. Released on the Affiliated 45 label, ‘Hard Working Girl’ is a mid-tempo jazzy R&B number that filled dancefloors. A couple of record companies bootlegged the track, and the secret reached a wider audience.
A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Clarence Daniels’ “Love Affair” album appeared on Modern’s Kent subsidiary and his “Do The Deal” set was on the company’s little-known Affiliated 45 offshoot. The Modern tape logs show a series of further Daniels recordings. It is worth noting that ‘What Can A Poor Boy Do’ and ‘I’ll Drive My Blues Away’ appeared on both LPs, while numerous fine but more uptempo tracks were left in the can. It was often the case with black music of the time that albums were intended for home listening, rather than the dancing or jukebox experience of a 45. Those uptempo numbers lacked the right ambience to have been included on Daniels’ albums. Our compilation rectifies that by focusing on tracks most relevant to today’s audience.
The collection opens with ‘Hard Working Girl’. The other tracks Obie Jessie recorded at his session with Daniels’ band include ‘I’ve Got My Walkin’ Papers’, a strident number with an insistent piano riff and a martial drum beat, the previously unissued ‘Got A Good Thing Going On’, which sounds rather like a Bobby Bland record from a couple of years earlier, and a slower version of ‘Hard Working Girl’, with vibes accentuating the rhythm.
Of the tracks we have selected from “Love Affair”, two are instrumentals which show a strong affinity with modern developments in big band arrangements. The vibrant ‘Check Out Time’, with its strong backbeat and modal feel, wouldn’t have seemed out of place on one of Gerald Wilson’s popular albums of the time. ‘What Can A Poor Boy Do’ has a more traditional bluesy feel, with a sophisticated Ellington-style brass arrangement, whilst ‘HelloCalifornia’, with Daniels himself on vocals, continues the blues exploration. On “Do The Deal”, Daniels also sings the slow blues ‘I’ll Never Let You Go’, with fantastic sax solos from Curtis Peagler on alto and Lucius Weathers on tenor. The album also features the otherwise unrecorded Sandy Miller, who sings the jazzy ‘And Then I’ll Stay’ and the more forceful Red Callender-penned ‘Baby I’m Gone’. The album’s title track is another soulful big band number, with an excellent trumpet solo from Mack Johnson.
Also in the tape vaults were several unreleased instrumentals and vocal cuts. Of the instrumentals, ‘Daddy’s Got A Shotgun’ is an R&B number with vibes as lead instrument, while ‘Cream Sherry’ fits into the same mould, but with a honking tenor sax lifting the excitement. A trio of untitled tunes bring different sounds to the party: ‘Instrumental #1’ is in modal big band jazz territory, ‘#2’ is a latin jazz number led by Cal Tjader-style vibes, and ‘#3’ is a sophisticated boogaloo. Of the vocals, Sandy Miller’s ‘I Got To Get Ready’, with its pounding piano-based rhythm, would have made a fine single. Daniels sings on a wonderful version of ‘What Can A Poor Boy Do’ and on ‘Baby I’m Gone’, which is more uptempo than Miller’s recording. Also included is the mod jazz instrumental ‘You Dig It’ from a rare single.