PEE WEE CRAYTON-TEXAS BLUES JUMPIN’ IN LOS ANGELES.

PEE WEE CRAYTON-TEXAS BLUES JUMPIN’ IN LOS ANGELES.

Musically, Pee Wee Crayton was a late developer. He only started playing the guitar seriously in 1935, when he was twenty-one. That just so happened to coincide with Pee Wee Crayton moving to Los Angeles. 

He’d moved to Los Angeles from Rockdale, Texas. That had been home to Pee Wee Crayton. It was where he was born on December 18th 1914. Growing up, Pee Wee Crayton was influenced by T-Bone Walker. 

That wasn’t unusual. Many aspiring musicians were influenced by T-Bone Walker. He was an influential and innovative guitarist, and is remembered as one of the legendary blues players. So is Pee Wee Crayton.

Over time, Pee Wee Crayton developed his own unique sound and style. His style of playing is best described as aggressive and confident. Coupled with a voice that’s smooth as silk, this was a winning combination. Pee Wee Crayton would go on to enjoy commercial success and critical acclaim, when he signed to Modern Records in 1948.

Pee Wee Crayton didn’t sign his first recording contract until he was thirty-three. He might have been a late developer, but success came quickly for Pee Wee Crayton. One of the first singles Pee Wee Crayton released, Blues After Hours, headed all the way to number one in the US R&B charts. It seemed Pee Wee Crayton was making up for lost time. 

This was just the start of the most productive period of Pee Wee Crayton’s career. The music Pee Wee Crayton recorded at Modern Records included, without doubt, some of the best music of his career. A reminder of this is Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles, Ace Records’ recently rereleased compilation of music Pee Wee Crayton recorded for Modern Records between 1948 and 1951.

Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles features twenty-eight tracks. The majority of these tracks will be new to most people. Twenty-six of these tracks have never been released before. There’s alternate version of singles and album tracks. Then there’s tracks that never made the cut. They’ve lain unloved in Modern Records’ vaults. Only two tracks from Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles have been released before.

The two tracks from Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles to have been released before include a B-Side and a single. I’m Still In Love With You is the B-Side to Pee Wee Crayton’s 1948 number one US R&B single Blues After Hours. Some Rainy Day was released as a single in 1950. These two tracks are just the tip of a musical iceberg.

Pee Wee Crayton’s first session for Modern Records was in September 1948. It resulted in the number one single Blues After Hours. Fittingly, an alternate take of  Blues After Hours opens Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles. It’s followed by the B-Side to Blues After Hours, I’m Still In Love With You. This version includes the false start. The same session yielded the ballad When Darkness Falls. Given how fruitful this session was, Modern Records didn’t wait long until they got Pee Wee back into the studio.

November 1948 saw Pee Wee and his band return to the studio. One of the highlights was an alternate version of Texas Hop. It’s a blistering boogie, featuring a guitar masterclass from Pee Wee. Among the other tracks from this session was a wistful alternate take of Central Avenue Blues. Later, Pee Wee springs a surprise unleashing a blistering guitar solo. The tempo is still slow on I Love You So aka I Still Love You. It features a melancholy, thoughtful vocal from Pee Wee. Playing an important part in the success of Central Avenue Blues and I Love You So aka I Still Love You, is the piano. Without doubt, it’s the perfect foil for Pee Wee as we hear another side to him and his music. A month later, Pee Wee showed another side to his music.

There was no rest for Pee Wee. Modern Records brought him back into the studio in December 1948. He and his band kick loose, delivering a scorching version of Austin Boogie. His trademark guitar is joined by a pounding piano and growling horns. What a way to end 1948, the year that transformed Pee Wee Crayton’s career. Would 1949 be as successful?

After a couple of sessions early in 1949 proved less than fruitful, it wasn’t until 30th July 1949 that Pee Wee Crayton found himself back in the studio. Accompanying him were his usual band a trio of horn players. Among the tracks from this session to feature on Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles are two versions of Brand New Woman. The first version has a false start. That’s a shame, given the blistering solo from Pee Wee. With the help of the horns, the other version swings. It’s just a pity they fluffed the first version. A dramatic, moody version of Long After Hours was another of the session’s highlights. So is Rockin’ The Blues, Long After Hours and Tired Of Travelin, which features a despairing vocal from Pee Wee. This was one of Pee Wee’s most fruitful sessions of 1949. The same can be said of a session in September 1949.

 It was at a session in September 1949 that Pee Wee recorded the alternate take of Blues For My Baby, which features on Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles. It’s another instrumental. After a false start, Pee Wee and his band get into the groove. The music is moody and bluesy. Sometimes, he thrashes his guitar, other times he caresses it. Another of the tracks from this session was When A Man Has The Blues. Here, Pee Wee pays homage to his hero T-Bone Walker’s They Call It Stormy Monday. My Everything  and Old Fashioned Baby have a slow, moody, late night sound. It’s Pee Wee at his best, making music for the lonely, brokenhearted and disenfranchised. The September 1949 session had proved fruitful. Pee Wee was on a roll.

Later in 1949, Pee Wee recorded two versions of T For Texas. The exact date isn’t known. One of the versions of T For Texas features on Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles. So does Rockin’ The Blues. It was recorded in December 1949. Pee Wee was accompanied by Harry Edison’s Orchestra. Bursts of muted trumpet play an important part in the track’s sound and success. After the recording sessions, Pee Wee took a three month break from recording.

Pee returned refreshed in February 1950. He went on to lay down some of the best music of his career. This included Huckle Boogie, where Pee Wee records a guitar double. It was overdubbed and resulted in a glorious boogie. The quality continued on Change Your Way Of Lovin’ and Some Rainy Day. It seemed Pee Wee was on his way to becoming one of the biggest names in blues music. Then fate decided to intervene.

During 1950, Pee Wee married his wife Esther, who he met in 1949. A year later, they were married. They remained married until Pee Wee passed away in 1985. However, the newly marred Pee Wee was involved in an automobile accident. This curtailed his recording schedule.

His first, and only, recording session of 1950 took place on 25th May 1950. Pee Wee recorded Answer To Blues After Hours. The song seems to follow Pee Wee’s tried and tested formula. This means that after a hesitant start, Pee Wee’s evocative guitar and flourishes of piano combine. Right through to the diminished chord that closes the track, this format had proved successful for Pee Wee. Why change a winning formula? Just like many artists, Pee Wee had found a successful formula. So would The Beatles, Motown and Gamble and Huff. Apart from Answer To Blues After Hours, Pee Wee laid down Crayton Special, Good Little Woman and an alternate take of California Women, which would feature on Pee Wee’s Crown 1960 eponymous album. Despite only entering  a recording studio once during 1950, Pee Wee hadn’t lost his mojo.

It would be another ten months before Pee Wee entered the recording studio again. On 14th March 1951, Pee Wee recorded the ballad Thinkin’ Of You and Poppa Stoppa, a horn driven ballad. It features Pee Wee unleashing a spellbinding solo. Accompanied by the piano, it’s a mesmeric performance, one of his best. Another version of Tired Of Travelin’ closes Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles. A weary, lonesome Pee Wee lays bare his soul, as he delivers a needy vocal. This proves the perfect way to close Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles.

Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles is the third instalment in Ace Records Pee Wee Crayton retrospective. Compiled by Dick Shurman, a renowned expert on the music of Pee Wee Cratyon, Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles is a captivating collection of alternate tracks. 

There’s alternate version of singles and album tracks. Then there’s unissued tracks that for whatever reason, never made the cut. They’ve lain unloved in Modern Records’ vaults for over sixty years. That’s way too long. Music deserves to heard and enjoyed. Thanks to Ace Records and Dick Shurman that’s now possible, with the recent released of Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles

Only two tracks from Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles have been released before. This includes a B-Side and a single. I’m Still In Love With You is the B-Side to Pee Wee Crayton’s 1948 number one US R&B single Blues After Hours. Some Rainy Day was released as a single in 1950. These two tracks are just the tip of a musical iceberg, that’s Pee Wee Crayton’s career at Modern Records.

It was at Modern Records that Pee Wee released some of the best music of his career. This music launched a career that lasted twenty-seven years, until Pee Wee passed away on June 25th 1985. Pee Wee was only seventy-one years old. A late developer as a musician, Pee Wee Crayton made up for lost time. 

Not long after he signed to Modern Records, Pee Wee Crayton enjoyed a number one single with Blues After Hours. Although Pee Wee never replicated that success, he enjoyed a successful career. Pee Wee Crayton is remembered as one of the finest blues guitarists of his generations. Then there’s that voice. It’s smooth as silk. When combined with his guitar playing, it’s a potent partnership that’s showcased on Ace Records’ Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles. For the newcomer to Pee Wee Crayton’s career, then Texas Blues Jumpin’ In Los Angeles is the perfect place to start.

PEE WEE CRAYTON-TEXAS BLUES JUMPIN’ IN LOS ANGELES.

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