This three-disc, 79-track box set of vintage string bass sides recorded between 1925 and 1941 from Atlanta's marvelous Dust-to-Digital folks can be listened to in a couple of different ways. It works as a survey of 78-rpm era bass players, certainly, including cuts from Bill Johnson
, Walter Page
, Al Morgan
, and many others, but due to its wide-ranging inclusion of jazz, swing, blues, country, jug band, Western swing, and gospel material, it can also work as a wonderfully upbeat set of vintage American roots music, and one doesn't necessarily need to be a string bass player or music historian to get into it. It isn't a collection of bass solos, either, although there are plenty of those scattered through the tunes, but is rather a look at how this instrument was used in a wide variety of settings. Among the high points are "Dinah" by Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra
, a funky "Bull Frog Blues" by Charles Pierce & His Orchestra
, a blistering "Tex's Dance" from the Prairie Ramblers
, a delightfully loose version of "Mama Don't Allow" called "Don't 'Low" from Washboard Sam
, and two takes by the Midnight Rounders
of "Bull Fiddle Rag." Fun from start to finish, How Low Can You Go?
is like a great cross-genre American barn dance in a box. Another great set from Dust-to-Digital.