V.S.O.P. #121 CD THE OTIS RENE STORY
This 2-CD release contains 44 selections produced and recorded by Otis Rene. Otis Rene, who co-wrote "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" and other standards, with his brother Leon, owned two labels, Excelsior Records during the 1940's and Spin Records during the 1950's. Excelsior Records was one of the premier independent post-war labels based in Los Angeles. It came into existence in the mid 1940's and featured such artists as the Nat Cole Trio, the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, The Johnny Otis Orchestra, Jimmy Rushing, the Luvenia Nash Singers, Gladys Bentley, and many others. Spin Records was created in 1952, and only released two or three singles, but recorded a number of additional sides. This CD release is devoted to Otis Rene's labels, as well as his songwriting efforts. The material comes primarily from tapes of 1940's acetates made by Otis Rene and from the master and session tapes recorded after 1950. In addition to released and unreleased recordings by the artists named above, there are a number of unreleased recordings by the Johnny Otis Orchestra, The Hollywood Flames, Preston Love, Beverly Wright and Otis Rene, himself.
Included on this 2-CD set are The Nat Cole Trio's first hit recordings from 1942 and 1943; the Gerald Wilson Orchestra's version of Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High" (the first recording and release of this composition) along with four other great selections from 1945 and 1947; three of Jimmy Rushing's great recordings for Excelsior; four sides recorded by the Johnny Otis Orchestra, including the unreleased Excelsior 158-B, "Volcano"; two studio acetates of the Luvenia Nash Singers; Glady's Bentley's satirical tribute to Father Divine; and a version of each of the selections recorded by the first Drifters group in 1950. In addition, all of the selections recorded by The Hollywood Flames for Spin are included, both the released and unreleased; Beverly Wright's recordings for Spin of the first compositions penned by Leiber and Stoller; and various released and unreleased Preston Love instrumentals. Also included is the first Excelsior release: Timmie Rogers' "Bring Enough Clothes" and the flip side, Herb Jeffries' "At Least You Could Save Me A Dream". Otis Rene's last recordings made in 1964 of Washington, D.C. based soul and rockabilly singer, Phil Flowers are also among the tracks in this set. As a bonus track, Charles Brown's "You Better Change Your Way" is also included. While it was originally released on Leon Rene's Exclusive label, Otis Rene purchased the master from the bankruptcy estate, since he had produced it originally and it was his composition. Also included are three publisher demos of Otis Rene performing his own works, accompanying himself on piano.
This unique collection should be of great interest to both jazz and R&B collectors, and is a wonderful introduction to the great musical and entertainment mecca that was Central Avenue during the 1940's and 1950's.
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