Reviewed by Phil Thomson
Born Rosetta Nubin in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, 20th March, 1915. Training - religious singer. The bald facts need little embellishment. Here is someone whose roots and influence define the very nature of gospel jazz. In a career which spanned almost 50 years, Rosetta Tharpe rose from guitar-wielding early folk-gospel in and around Arkansas to mix it with the likes of Cab Calloway and Lucky Millinder, picking up hits along the way ("That's All", "Shout, Sister, Shout") - eventually to be recognised internationally on the jazz circuit, even travelling to England in the late '50s with the Chris Barber Jazz Band. Rosetta refused to be categorised, playing clubs and recording secular material, to the chagrin of her church followers, which took her naturally into rhythm and blues and early rock and roll. What we have here speaks for itself - a year in the prodigious output of this formidable, playful singer: 26 tracks which rant and pray and boogie their way into your heart forever. There is such conviction about her singing and her message, at first you hardly even notice the excellent picking, tinkling, slamming virtuosity of the Sam Price Trio - who feature so stoically in her recordings from 1944, and rightly take their share of the jazz-blues-gospel glory along the way. Definitely a celebration. Absolutely priceless as an experience.
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