30 - The Earliest Sound Recordings Containing Boogie Woogie Bass Figures

by John Tennison — History of Boogie Woogie

The Rocks” by George & Hersal Thomas (recorded February, 1923) and “The Fives,” (performed by Joseph Samuel’s Tampa Blue Jazz Band) and also written by George & Hersal Thomas (and also recorded February, 1923) are the earliest sound recordings of which I am aware that contain Boogie Woogie bass figures.  Moreover, Fletcher Henderson’s recording of “Chime Blues” on Black Swan Records was recorded at a similar time (circa March,1923) and also contains a Boogie Woogie bass figure.

Thus, the February 1923 recordings of “The Rocks” and “The Fives” should be regarded as a 1st-place tie for the earliest sound recording containing a Boogie Woogie bass figure.

The first sound recording of which I know of George W. Thomas’s “New Orleans Hop Scop Blues” was also made in 1923 on OKeh Records.

The February 1923 recording of “The Rocks” lists “Clay Custer” as the piano player.  While this person is commonly regarded as having been George Thomas, Jr., this conclusion is still uncertain.  Although some have written that “Custer” was the maiden name of George Thomas’s mother, the Oxford Guide to Recorded Blues and Gospel disputes this claim, stating that Custer was not George’s mother’s maiden name.

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© 2004-2009 John Tennison — All Rights Reserved

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