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  Margie Baker gives 1940s R&B History Lesson

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PostSubject: Margie Baker gives 1940s R&B History Lesson   Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:44 am

Margie Baker has been singing jazz and blues in San Francisco for the past 40 years or so. Mostly a mainstay in clubs and hotels in the Bay Area, she has only recorded a couple of albums. So it is a treat to hear her latest, a concert club date appropriately titled LIVE AT RASSELAS, a venue in the historic Fillmore District there. This area is the only place Black musicians were allowed to play in the early part of the last century so it was a hot-bed for jazz, blues and the early amalgam of those styles which came to be known as rhythm-and-blues or R&B. Baker was a little girl growing up there in the 1940s and you can imagine her peaking in club windows, lingering outside hotels and trying to catch the music during afternoon rehearsals when the top Black acts of the time came to town. Now Margie remembers back with this CD. It has her covering 20 of the biggest Black hits of that era. Some of them (“Fine Brown Frame,” “Jelly Jelly,” “R.M. Blues”) were only hits on the “Race Records” charts (as they were known then) and were primarily known to Black audiences only. But other tunes by Louis Jordan, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Nat Cole were immensely popular on both sides of the “color line.” Music was one of the first common denominators that helped establish a bond between Blacks and Whites, and put a damper on racism. Margie Baker shows why music crossed over from one group to another. This music was just plain good. You could spend a lot of time and energy and money searching out the originals of this material, and if you get hooked on the sounds here you might want to do that. But if you simply want a starting point, a sampler of the great Black sounds of the immediate pre-and-post-WWII-era, just find a copy of this album and enjoy the music scene that most of us missed.

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