Personnel: Odetta (vocals); Herb Hall (clarinet); Buck Clayton (trumpet); Vic Dickenson (trombone); Dick Wellstood (piano); Ahmed Abdul-Malik (bass); "Shep" Shepherd (drums).
Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios, New York, April 11-12, 1962. Originally released on Riverside (9417). Includes original liner notes by Ed Michel.
Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (1991, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley California).
Although Odetta's commercial breakthrough came from her affiliation with the collegiate folk revival of the late '50s and early '60s, the singer/guitarist spent the early '50s singing mostly blues in the early Bessie Smith/Ma Rainey style. Knowledge of this earlier period in Odetta's career puts 1962's wonderful ODETTA AND THE BLUES into context: no mere bandwagon-jumper she.
Unlike the majority of her folk albums, which feature Odetta, her acoustic guitar and occasionally unobtrusive bass work by Bill Lee, ODETTA AND THE BLUES was recorded with a full band of the mid-'20s style: clarinet, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, and drums. The sextet knows their history--a drag like "Hard, Oh Lord" wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Kid Ory 78 in 1925--but aren't mere revivalists, kicking into standards like "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor" with verve and passion. Odetta, as always, sings magnificently.