A TRIBUTE TO VALAIDA SNOW (a CD review)

Eric LeBlanc-CISTI leblanc@dao.nrc.ca
Thu Jun 2 05:00:07 EDT 1994


      With the recent death of TINY DAVIS, another of the great un-sung
      women blues trumpet players has left us.  VALAIDA SNOW was another
      and since today is her birthday, I've asked Tom Morgan if I could
      posting his review of a her new CD.  It seems now that they have
      discovered that she was born, not in Chattanooga, TN., but in
      Washington, DC.



      HARLEQUIN CD 12 : Valaida Snow             - Valaida Vol. 1 1935-1937
      =====================================================================
      VALAIDA SNOW                          b. 1900-0602, WASHINGTON, DC
                                            d. 1956-0530, NEW YORK CITY, NY


     Only recently has there been a break in the long history of
discrimination in jazz circles against female instrumentalists. Other than
pianists, most women were discouraged from joining bands, thus giving
them little chance to perfect their craft or to have their attempts recorded
in a studio. Jazz critics have held similar prejudices, with the best praise
being "pretty good for a woman."  Harlequin Records finally brings to light
one of those under-appreciated jazz artists with its recently released CD
by Valaida Snow. This recording of one of the best trumpeters and vocalists
of the mid-thirties is a gem worthy of great praise.

     Valaida Snow was born in 1900 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Twenty
years later, Valaida began her professional career in Philadelphia before
stepping up to the big time at Baron Wilkin's, a famous club in New York
City. Valaida achieved her fame, though, outside of the United States. In
1926, she sailed to Shanghaii as a specialty act with Jack Carter's Band. In
1929, she performed in Russia, the Middle East and Europe. During the early
thirties, she worked in London, eventually touring much of Europe
including Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, France and Sweden. She was
sometimes accompanied by either of her two other performing sisters,
LaVaida and Alvaida. Also during the thirties, Valaida appeared  as a double
act with her husband, Ananias Berry, in Los Angeles, which led to two
American film appearances. Valaida continued to work as a vocalist until she
died in 1956.

     The 21 cut CD was recorded in London, England, between 1935 and
1937. Valaida obviously was influenced by Louis Armstrong both as a
vocalist and an instrumentalist, even billing herself as `Little Louis' for a
while. Valaida is a strong singer with a penchant for tunes that are
guaranteed to put a smile on your face such as "I Wish I were Twins," "I
Can't Dance, I've Got Ants In My Pants" and " You Bring Out The Savage In
Me." Also included are three songs written by Valaida: "High Hat, Trumpet
and Rhythm," "I Want A Lot of Love" and "Take Care of Me For You."

     Her trumpeting is clean and clear as a bell. If there is any complaint
about the CD, it's that there is not an instrumental led by Valaida in this
first volume of her recordings.

     Valaida Snow was one of the most traveled stars in early Jazz. The time
has now come for America to discover what a great talent she was, by
buying and listening to this superb new CD.




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