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Wed, 04.18.1906

Lil Brother, Blues Singer born

*"Little Brother” Montgomery was born on this date in 1906. He was a Black blues singer and pianist.

From Kentwood, La, Eurreal Wilford Montgomery (his name at birth) was a self-taught musician from a musical family who dropped out of school and left home at eleven. He traveled in small towns, lumber camps, and cities in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, playing in taverns and barrel houses, usually as a soloist who sang and played. He also worked with jazz and dance bands or with other blues guitarists. In 1928 he moved to Chicago, where he worked at house-rent parties (parties thrown to raise rent money) and made his first recordings.

These included "Vicksburg Blues," his own version of "The Forty-Fours," in 1930. The next year he relocated to Jackson, Miss., where he formed the Southland Troubadours (also called the Collegiate Ramblers), which played in ballrooms throughout the South. During this time (1936), he recorded the original versions of his standards "Shreveport Farewell" and "The First Time I Met the Blues." In 1948 he played in Kid Ory's band at Carnegie Hall. On piano, he accompanied classic blues singer Edith Wilson and contemporary Chicago blues artists such as Buddy Guy and Otis Rush. Still, he appeared most often as a solo performer or leader of his own groups.

Montgomery co-wrote "The Forty-Fours," a complex composition for piano that is a staple of the blues repertoire. He also became a popular attraction on international tours and at jazz and blues festivals. Montgomery's graceful, New Orleans-style swing and uncommonly wide repertoire encompassed blues, boogie-woogie, ragtime, popular songs, and jazz standards. They made him a popular pianist in traditional jazz groups too. Eurreal Wilford Montgomery died on Sept. 6, 1985.

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