The CD's notes begin by saying: "William Christopher Handy, `The Father of the Blues,' was born in Florence, Alabama on November 16, 1873." He began his musical career in earnest in 1893. One of his best known works, "St. Louis Blues," appeared in 1914; it is described as "one of the most recorded songs in history and has been hailed as the `National Anthem of the Blues.'" It seems to me that his music crosscuts ragtime, jazz, and blues.
The recording quality varies from poor to adequate. Many of the cuts are very scratchy but on a par with the technology of the time period. The various works were recorded between 1917 and 1923.
Some illustrations: "Moonlight Blue" is played at a more stately pace. There is an orchestra of 12 persons (plus Handy as Conductor and Coronet player). The resulting sound is distinctively Handy's. No vocals. There is some nice piano playing (apparently by Charles Hillman).
"St. Louis Blues"--the musicians are unknown (except for Handy). The tune begins with some bawdy brass and the song is taken at a quick pace. It is, in effect, most infectious. Overall, the playing is pretty crisp, although is sounded to me like things got a little loose toward the middle. Nonetheless, a lot of fun to listen to, scratchy sound and acoustic technology notwithstanding.
"Yellow Dog Blues" is another sprightly paced tune. After listening to a number of cuts, one can begin to pick up what might be called the W. C. Handy "sound."
Finally, "Muscle Shoal Blues." Again, an infectious tune, well played.
This represents a useful beginning to the work of W. C. Handy. This is the first CD I have ever heard of his work, so I can't say how it compared with any other recordings. But it seems, to me, like a very nice introduction to his body of work.