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Insider's Picks: R&B Harmony

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In the late 1940s, jazz and R&B wound up like the Parent Trap twins. Two different music forms separated when fans “divorced" and went their separate ways—some preferring to sit and listen intently to jazz while others went with a big-beat sound more suitable for dancing.

In the years that followed, jazz and R&B developed two separate but parallel fan bases. Jazz fans tended to look down their noses at R&B, viewing it as monotonous, disposable music crafted for jukeboxes to make a fast buck.

But wait, not so fast.

The R&B vocal harmony groups of the 1950s were exceptional by any standard. On a close listen, you find that there's much more talent and sophistication than you might have otherwise imagined. Personally, I love the harmony groups of this period and have written about them at JazzWax in the past. But this time around I wanted to go deep—so I invited Marv Goldberg [pictured above] to serve as an expert witness.

Marv runs UncaMarvy.com, the web's best R&B Internet radio show. What's cool about Marv is how passionate he is aboutthe music and how much knowledge he shares with his audiences. Marv has spent more than 40 years interviewing R&B singers and documenting their contributions on the air and in articles. His expertise dates back to R&B's roots in the late 1930s and 1940s, and travels right up through the 1950s and beyond.

Marv's e-radio shows are underground raves. You either know about them, or someone tells you about them. I first learnedabout Marv from Wally, another deep-groove R&B fan who works at my local pharmacy. That's the beauty of New York. Spend a little time talking with people here and you find they are deeply into something and know where you can go to learn much more.

So in the wake of my post last week on R&B baritone saxophonist, I reached out to Marv for six of his favorite R&B vocal tracks. I asked for tracks from the mid-1950s that would appeal to JazzWax readers. I also asked Marv that he make them rare and that YouTube clips accompany his choices.

Here are Marv's six picks...

Here's Baby by the Avons (1957)...



Here's A Kiss And A Vow by the Nitecaps (1955)...



Here's Believe In Me by the Copesetics (1956)...



Here's Green Eyes by Jimmy Ricks & Ravens (1955)



JazzWax note: Marv's weekly hour-long show goes upon his site on Sundays, where it remains as a podcast for a week. The previous week's show is archived. He also maintains a complete playlist of songs, artists, labels and years. Here's Marv's home page, where you'll find articles, links and other features in the left-hand margin. Warning: If you reach out to Marv, don't call the music “Doo-Wop." He finds the term dumb and a clumsy way to define tatseful music.


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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.

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