The Helsinki Chamber Choir (Helsingin kamarikuoro) was founded in 1962 as the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir and assumed its current name in 2005. It is currently Finland’s only professional chamber choir. The choir’s Artistic Director from 2005–2007 was Kimmo Hakola. Since 2007 Nils Schweckendiek has been responsible for the group's artistic planning.
Although one may think of the blues harp beginning with Little Walter, the first Sonny Boy Williamson, or Sonny Terry, a variety of harmonica players did record in the '20s. Some of their recordings were technical displays that featured them imitating everything from animals to trains, while other players were more blues-oriented. This valuable CD has two selections from the guitar-harmonica team of William Francis and Richard Sowell; Ollis Martin's "Police and High Sheriff Come Ridin' Down"; six pieces by Eli Watson (including "El Watson's Fox Chase"); two cuts apiece by Palmer McAbee, Ellis Williams, Alfred Lewis, and the team of Smith & Harper (which is the only music on this CD recorded after 1930); plus four songs/displays from Blues Birdhead (including "Get up off That Jazzophone") and George "Bullet" Williams (highlighted by "Frisco Leaving Birmingham" and "The Escaped Convict"). Fascinating music.
The Mound City Blue Blowers originally made history with a dozen high-quality novelty recordings during 1924-25 that featured the trio of Red McKenzie's comb, Dick Slevin's kazoo and banjoist Jack Bland; guitarist Eddie Lang solidified the rhythm on their later six numbers. However, other than McKenzie's participation, those dates had little to do with the 25 recordings on this Classics CD, the last issued under the Mound City Blue Blowers' name. In fact, other than taking four vocals on the first date, McKenzie makes only cameo appearances on kazoo during the remainder of the program, although he had clearly organized the bands…
As a rule, record companies don't give artists the chance to pick the songs when a boxed set is assembled. They might ask the person who writes the liner notes to interview the artist, or they might even have the artist write the liner notes. But the label, not the artist, usually chooses the material. Self Portrait is an exception; when this five-CD, 95-track boxed set was assembled in 2001, a 91-year-old Artie Shaw was given a rare chance to make the selections himself and comment on them. And for those who are seriously into the clarinetist, it is fascinating to see what he chooses. Self Portrait, which spans 1936-1954, contains most of his essential swing, era hits, including "Stardust," "Begin the Beguine," "Frenesi," and his ominous signature tune, "Nightmare."