Martha, Connee, and Helvetia Boswell were just three young sisters from New Orleans with a jones for jazz when they began recording in the mid-1920s. After moving to New York in the '30s, they became a sensation in both the jazz and pop worlds with their distinctive close-harmony vocals and innovative interpretations of the popular songs of the day. THAT'S HOW RHYTHM WAS BORN hits the highlights of the trio's career, and makes it plain why they were so influential for the legions of jazz singers that came in their wake.
The Boswells' career bridged the early-jazz and swing eras, and THAT'S HOW RHYTHM WAS BORN straddles both styles comfortably; there's the sultry, bluesy lope of "Darktown Strutter's Ball" and "St. Louis Blues" on one hand and the more urbane sounds of "If I Had a Million Dollars" on the other. Regardless of the setting, the sisters' sophisticated harmonies are the centerpiece of every tune, and this 20-track collection servers as an excellent introduction to their charms.