Little Brother Montgomery
|Little Brother Montgomery|
|Birth name||Eurreal Wilford Montgomery|
|Also known as||Little Brother Montgomery|
|Born||April 18, 1906|
|Origin||Kentwood, Louisiana, United States|
|Died||September 6, 1985(aged 79)|
|Associated acts||Lil Hardin Armstrong
Spanky and Our Gang
Largely self-taught, Montgomery is often thought of as just a blues pianist, but he was an important blues pianist with an original style. He was also quite versatile, however, and worked in jazz bands including larger ensembles that used written arrangements. Although he did not read music, he learned band routines by ear, once through an arrangement and he had it memorized. He was a singer with an immediately recognizable, rather affecting wobble: an oral historian as full of musical anecdotes as Jelly Roll Morton.
Montgomery was born in the town of Kentwood, Louisiana, a sawmill town near the Mississippi Border, across Lake Pontchartrain from the city of New Orleans, where he spent much of his childhood. As a child he looked like his father, Harper Montgomery, and was called Little Brother Harper. The name evolved into Little Brother Montgomery, a nickname which stuck. He started playing piano at the age of 4, and by age 11 he was playing at various barrelhouses in Louisiana. His own musical influences were Jelly Roll Morton who used visit the Montgomery household.
Early on he played at African American lumber and turpentine camps in Louisiana and Mississippi, then with the bands of Clarence Desdunes and Buddy Petit. He first went to Chicago from 1928 to 1931, where he made his first recordings. From 1931 through 1938 he led a band in Jackson.
In 1942 Montgomery moved back to Chicago, which would be his base for the rest of his life, with various tours to other United States cities and Europe. His repertoire alternated between blues and traditional jazz (he played Carnegie Hall with Kid Ory's Dixieland band in 1949). In the late 1950s he was "discovered" by wider white audiences. He toured briefly with Otis Rush in 1956. His fame grew in the 1960s, and he continued to make many recordings, including on his own record label, FM Records (formed in 1969). FM came from Floberg, his wife Jan's maiden name and Montgomery, his own surname.
These and other recordings added momentum to Montgomery’s career and he became a world traveller, visiting the UK and Europe on several occasions during the 1960s, cutting several of his 20-odd albums there, while remaining based in Chicago. Montgomery appeared at many blues and folk festivals during the following decade and was considered a living legend, a link to the early days of blues and New Orleans.
Among his original compositions are "Shreveport Farewell", "Farrish Street Jive", and "Vicksburg Blues". His instrumental "Crescent City Blues" served as the basis for a song of the same name by Gordon Jenkins, which in turn was adapted by Johnny Cash as "Folsom Prison Blues."
- List of Chicago blues musicians
- Adelphi Records
- 77 Records
- Wikipedia:Find-A-Grave famous people/M/Mit
- List of people from Louisiana
- List of blues musicians
- The Story of Little Brother Montgomery by Karl Gert zur Heide, published by Studio Vista, London, in 1970, provides an overview of his life and early career.
- The October 1985 issue of The Mississippi Rag has an article on Little Brother Montgomery by Paige Van Vorst. This article was revised and updated and included in the liner notes of the 1990 album Little Brother Montgomery - At Home (posthumously issued as Earwig 4918). These articles provide an overview of his life and musical career.
- The 2 LP Set Little Brother Montgomery - Crescent City Blues (AXM2-5522), published by RCA in 1975, featuring many of his Bluebird records from the mid-1930s also has comprehensive liner notes giving an overview of his musical career. They were written by Jim O'Neal, the editor of Living Blues magazine, in Chicago, August, 1975.
- Oliver, Paul (1965). Conversation With the Blues. Cassell, London. ISBN 3-85445-065-6., published in 1965 and re-issued by Cambridge University Press in 1997, includes interviews with Little Brother Montgomery.
|Year of Release||Album Title||Label|
|1965||Music Down Home: An Introduction to Negro Folk Music: U.S.A.||Folkways|
|1968||Farro Street Live||Folkways|
|1968||No Special Rider Here||Genes/Adelphi|
|1972||Blues Piano Orgy||Delmark|
|1975||Church Songs: Sung and Played on the Piano by Little Brother Montgomery||Folkways|
|2003||Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways||Smithsonian Folkways|
|2003||Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways, Vol. 2||Smithsonian Folkways|
|2008||Classic Piano Blues from Smithsonian Folkways||Smithsonian Folkways|
|2008||Classic African American Gospel from Smithsonian Folkways||Smithsonian Folkways|
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- Allmusic biography
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 146. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Allboutjazz.com - accessed January 2008
- Silverman, Jonathan (September 30, 2010). "Nine Choices: Johnny Cash and American Culture". University of Massachusetts Press. p. 92. Retrieved October 04, 2012.
- "2013 Blues Hall of Fame Inductees Announced". Blues.org. Retrieved 2013-03-06.
- Illustrated Little Brother Montgomery discography
- Montgomery Discography at Folkways Records
- Montgomery biography at Allmusic website