Living Blues - 6/03, p.109
"...This set offers a fascinating proof that there was much more to Detroit's pre-Motown years than the rough country-based blues of men like John Lee Hooker, Dr. Ross, and Bobo Jenkins..."
Personnel includes: Todd Rhodes (piano); Kitty Stevenson, Louie Saunders (vocals).
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Although Rhodes' professional career stretched over several decades, it was as an R&B-jazz bandleader in the late '40s that he achieved his greatest visibility as a recording artist. This 28-track CD is an admirable summary of that era, all recorded from 1947 to 1951, with half of the cuts being previously unissued outtakes and alternates. Though "Todd Rhodes & His Orchestra" is the most frequent billing on these, and his band does play on all cuts, some are billed to "Todd Rhodes and His Septet" or "Todd Rhodes and His Toddlers"; on others, his band backs vocalists Kitty Stevenson or Louie Sanders. Regardless of the billing, it's lively early R&B from the brief postwar window when jazz and R&B were spilling over into each other. Like many such single-artist compilations in the genre, there's more similarity between many of the songs than is optimum, and too much reliance on stock R&B chord progressions for listeners who aren't aficionados of the style. From the standpoint of someone who's heard a good number of such compilations, the most jazz-oriented, instrumental material actually sounds fresher, with greater melodic invention and no sacrifice in energy. Tracks like "Dance of the Red Skins" and "Bop Bop Sizzle" sound more rooted in the big band era than the R&B one, with some R&B-blues influence filtering in with the honking sax; the more R&B-inclined numbers, particularly the ones featuring singers, are overall more routine. The sound is good, especially considering it was remastered from acetates. ~ Richie Unterberger