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22 October 2014

Tuba Skinny; and 'Dear Almanzoer'

Sometimes you come across a great tune on YouTube but can't for the life of you think of its title. That happened to me with a recent one from Tuba Skinny.

The person who put up the video didn't know it either.

Well, a blog-reader (James Buck) very kindly put us both out of our misery and told us it is 'Dear Almanzoer', written and recorded in 1927 by Oscar Celestin. He's right!

Listen to Celestin's version and then Tuba Skinny's. You will find the musicians of Tuba Skinny have kept faithfully to the original, even though their instrumentation is slightly different from Celestin's. The structure of Tuba Skinny's performance is as follows.The entire piece (which comprises three themes) is played in the key of Eb:

Theme A (played once): 16-bar theme like a Verse of a Song. Typical of verses in Eb, it ends on the chord of Bb7, leading perfectly into the tonic at the start of Theme B.

Theme B (played once): 32-bar theme (like a Chorus of a song).

Theme C: a 12-bar blues theme (played 5 times: i. clarinet against offbeats - exactly as on the Celestin version, ii. clarinet against stop chords - again exactly as on the Celestin version, iii. cornet, iv. trombone leading, v. trombone leading - with decoration from cornet).

Theme B: the 32-bar theme is played ensemble again to finish (again as in the original Celestin performance).

Thanks as so often to the great video-maker digitalalexa for recording this performance for us.

21 October 2014

Letter From Australia: Tuba Skinny Performance

Today I received this:-

Hello Ivan, 

On Saturday the 18th October, Maree and I were treated to some absolutely fabulous New Orleans Jazz by a superb band of musicians called Tuba Skinny. It was a beautiful evening in Melbourne and the band were playing in a large tent on the banks of the Yarra River. We were able to stand one row back from the stage (we wangled this only because we are small and the taller people around did not mind) and had a great view of all the activities on the stage. The washboard player Robin Rapuzzi was directly above us on the stage. Erika has a great blues/jazz voice and the rest are superb on their individual instruments. The show went for about 90mins and we enjoyed every minute of it.

But wait there's more. After the show the band members came out to sell their recent CDs so we bought their CD titled "Pyramid Strut" and six of the band members autographed it. We also took some photos.

All in all a very memorable and enjoyable evening.


John and Maree

20 October 2014

Great New CD From The Shotgun Jazz Band

The Shotgun Jazz Band has recently released a CD that is likely to prove very popular. If you would like to buy it, go to 

and follow the instructions. You can download it directly to your computer. It is expected that hard copies will also be on sale soon.

All sixteen tracks of the CD were recorded in one session without an audience at Luthjen's Dance Hall in New Orleans. For bands with less stamina, it would have been an exhausting undertaking. The acoustics are terrific but obviously the emptiness of the building meant that it lacked the atmosphere that comes from having an audience. The recording is well balanced: you hear all instruments and vocals clearly.

The Band on the day comprised Marla Dixon (trumpet), John Dixon (banjo), Tyler Thomson (string bass), Justin Peake (percussion), Ben Polcer (piano), Charlie Halloran (trombone) and James Evans (reeds).

As well as playing the trumpet in a bold, forthright manner, Marla also delivers lusty, emotional vocals, in which one of her specialities is the thrilling rising glissando.

The rock-steady rhythm section, which is responsible for much of the band's distinctive house style, is on superb form throughout. The combination of Justin Peake (one of my favourite drummers), Tyler Thomson and John Dixon would be hard to beat. What a joy it must be for any 'front-line' players to be pumped along by them.

Here are the tunes on the CD:

I Believe I Can Make It By Myself

Sammy Penn with the Kid Thomas Band used to make a big feature of this 12-bar tune in Bb. The Shotgun Band gives it a raw treatment, with much trumpet growling and flattened thirds as well as a lusty vocal from Marla.

You Always Hurt The One You Love

This sets a great foot-tapping tempo. The rhythm section shines. Note the unusual key change - after a start in Bb, Marla sings the vocal gently in Eb and later more powerfully in Bb.

Get A Working Man (a.k.a. Pinchbacks, Take 'Em Away)

Marla offers a vocal with a message for the ladies: it's better to have a hard-working man than one who is good-looking but idle. It was blog-reader Phil in the USA who told me it was originally recorded in 1924 by Bessie Smith under the title Pinchbacks, Take 'Em Away. It has a 16-bar verse and a 32-bar chorus (harmonically identical to It's a Long Way to Tipperary). James' fluid solo (backed so well by Charlie and the Rhythm Section) distinctly demonstrates the Shotgun house style.

This raggy number which I think Lil Hardin composed for King Oliver's Band in 1923 (when they recorded it) is technically challenging but the Shotguns make light work of it. The tune is played fast (as by King Oliver) and, although it's full ensemble all the way, there are some nice 'breaks' for James.
Marla delivers a pleasant vocal (complete with Verse) right from the start, with solid backing from Ben, John, Tyler and Justin. Then there's a nice relaxed chorus featuring the clarinet and trombone again, with the chosen key (F) suited very well to James' higher register.
This standard from 1925 seems to be a favourite with the Shotgun players. They played it in the great Abita Springs video. (Click here to see it.) Marla offers a punchy trumpet and vocal and there is a pleasant 16-bars-each chorus shared by James and Charlie.
Every band plays this tune from 1918. So how do the Shotguns make it fresh? With terrific front-line interplay; some Kid Thomas-style attack; and a vocal from Marla.
He'll Have To Go
This is one of two tunes in waltz time on the CD. Imagine Careless Love played slowly in 3/4. It's harmonically similar. Composed by Joe and Audrey Allison, it was a hit for Jim Reeves in 1959. Much of the performance consists of a gentle vocal from Marla, well supported by Ben. There are a few bars of special beauty when James leads with the melody in the ensemble. 
Over In The Gloryland
This spiritual is another tune that most bands play. Some musicians don't like it because of its very limited harmonic pattern. But the Shotguns make it last for over six minutes and leave you wanting more. There is hearty singing and great collective improvisation. (The song is also played sensationally well in the Abita Springs video mentioned above.)
I Love You So Much It Hurts
This is a country and western number recorded (and probably written) by Floyd Tillman in 1948. The Shotguns give a no-frills straight-ahead performance of the 32-bar simple tune. They choose not to offer a vocal.
Kentucky Blues
I don't know the origin of this tune. (There are at least two other different tunes with this title). It seems to have two themes (16-bar and a standard 12-bar). The arrangement is the most sophisticated on this CD - from a band that normally does not bother with very sophisticated arrangements. The lovely clarinet of James Evans is well featured.
Love In Bloom
James is singing this one a great deal recently at the band's performances. He is no mean vocalist. It's a very nice song composed in 1934 by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger. James also plays some lovely fluid clarinet with Marla (unconventionally using a standard mute) in the background. It's one of two tunes played in Ab. The other is Gloryland, of course.
Mobile Stomp
This famous number (written and recorded by the Sam Morgan Band in 1927) is also on the Abita Springs video. I like the rock-steady work from all members of the band, especially at its more delicate moments. Note the saxophone's second chorus against offbeats; and the amusing 'quadruple' ending.
You Broke Your Promise
This 1949 pop song by Wyle, Taylor and Pole was a favourite with the early Preservation Hall bands. In an unpretentious performance of this 32-bar tune, Marla offers a nice clear vocal - a help to those of us who want to learn the words. As in You Always Hurt The One You Love, above, she drops the key (to C) for her first vocal but sings her second vocal higher - in F - the key in which the rest of the performance is played. This must be a device she enjoys. It certainly is effective in setting the two vocals in contrast.
Tennessee Waltz
This is the second tune in 3/4 time. It's also the most touching tune on the CD. Marla sings the sad words about lost love, with good instrumental support from James and Charlie. A beautiful melody, gently presented.
I'll See You In My Dreams
The famous Isham Jones and Sammy Kahn song from 1924. No vocal is offered; and they do not make the mistake of taking it too slowly. Charlie's trombone gives a melodious lead; and there is some lovely ensemble playing.

19 October 2014

Tunes with More Than One Title

It is surprising how many tunes in the traditional jazz repertoire have with the passage of time acquired more than one title. There must have been various reasons for this, one of which was that a later performer wanted to disguise the fact that he was plagiarising a tune from an earlier band. But I am sure there were other reasons too, that had more to do with mere memory loss.

Here are over fifty examples. Maybe you can send me some more?

Algiers Strut is also known as You're all I Want for Christmas

Astoria Strut is also known as Climax Rag

Atlanta Blues (final strain) is also known as Make Me a Pallet on the Floor

Barnyard Blues is also known as Livery Stable Blues

Black Bottom Stomp is also known as Queen of Spades

Blame it on the Blues is also known as Quincy Street Stomp

Bluebells Goodbye is also known as Bright Eyes Goodbye

Bugle Boy March is also known as American Soldier

California Blues is also known as Blue Yodel No. 4

Can I Sleep in Your Arms Tonight, Lady? is the same tune as Red River Valley and is the same tune as We Shall Walk Through the Streets of the City

Chimes Blues is also known as Mournful Serenade

Creole Love Call is basically the middle theme from Camp Meeting Blues

Creole Song is also known as L'Autre Can Can and is also known as Madame Pedoux

Dauphine Street Blues (first strain) is also known as Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Morning

Deep Bayou Blues is also known as The Three Sixes

Dippermouth Blues was re-created by the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra as Sugarfoot Stomp

Do Lord (tune) is also known as It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song

Don't Go 'Way, Nobody (tune) is also known as  How Come You Do Me Like You Do Do Do? and  is also known as Everybody's Talking About Sammy and  is also known as I'm a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas and  is also known as If It Don't Fit, Don't Force It

Don't You Feel My Leg is also known as Don't Make Me High

Down Home Rag is also known as Black Rag

Duke's Place is also known as C-Jam Blues

Fidgety Feet is also known as War Clouds

Frogimore Rag (trio) is also known as Sweetheart of Mine

Frosty Morning Blues is also known as Lost Your Man Blues

The Eyes of Texas (tune) is also known as I've Been Working on the Railroad

Garbage Man Blues is also known as Call of the Freaks and is also known as New Call of the Freaks 

Get a Working Man is identical to Pinchbacks, Take 'Em Away (and the chorus is harmonically the same as It's a Long Way to Tipperary)

Golden Leaf Strut is also known as Milenberg Joys

Good Time Flat Blues is also known as Farewell to Storyville

Hesitating Blues is also known as How Long, How Long Blues

Hiawatha Rag  is also known as A Summer Idyll

San Jacinto Stomp is also known as I Can't Escape from You and is also known as In the Groove and  is also known as I Don't Mean Maybe

I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music is also known as I Hope You Like My Music

In The Sweet By and By is also known as The Preacher and the Slave

Joe Avery's Piece is also known as Victory Walk

La Harpe Street Blues (theme) is also known as We Sure Do Need Him Now

Lily of the Valley is also known as Everybody Ought To Know and was possibly plagiarized from the final theme of Red Onion Drag

London Blues is also known as Shoe Shiner's Drag

Lotus Blossom is also known as Sweet Lotus Blossom

Loveless Love is also known as Careless Love

Love Me Tender is also known as Aura Lee

Martha is also known as Mazie

Memphis Blues is also known as Mr. Crump

Milneberg Joys is usually mis-spelt Milenberg Joys [The New Orleans suburb took its name from Scotsman Alexander Milne]

Midnight Mama - see under Tom Cat Blues

Mississippi Wobble is also known as Quality Shout

Montmartre is also known as Django's Jump

Mood Indigo is also known as Dreamy Blues

Moonlight and Roses is actually Lemare's 'Andantino'

New Orleans Bump is also known as Monrovia

Old Stack o'Lee Blues (not Stack o'Lee Blues) is virtually identical to Faraway Blues

Oriental Jazz was called Soudan by its original composer

The 1919 March is also known as The Rifle Rangers

China Boy is also known as Pacific Rim Stomp

Poor Old Joe is also known as Old Black Joe

Lazy Luke (composed in 1905 by George J. Philpot) was misleadingly renamed Red Flannel Rag by Turk Murphy when he recorded it many years later

Moanful Blues is actually Some Day Sweetheart

My Good Man Sam is virtually identical to Doctor Jazz

After You've Gone (1917) seems to have plagiarized Peg o' My Heart (1913)

Riverboat Shuffle was originally Free Wheeling

Riverside Blues is also known as Dixieland Shuffle

Root Hog or Die is virtually the same as Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen

The final theme of Royal Garden Blues is also the main theme of Georgia Bo Bo

Savoyager's Stomp is also known as Muskrat Ramble

Sidwewalk Blues is also known as Fishtail Blues

Silver Bell (second theme) is also known as Sometimes My Burden's Too Hard to Bear

Si Tu Vois Ma Mère is also known as Lonesome

Soap Suds is also known as Fickle Fay Creep

South is also known as Pork Chop

Storyville Blues is also known as Those Drafting Blues  and is also known as Bienville Blues

Gully Low Blues is also known as S.O.L. Blues

Original Dixieland One-Step (final strain) is also known as That Teasing Rag

Tar Paper Stomp is also known as Hot and Anxious (one theme) and is also known as In The Mood

The Midnight Special is also known as Shine a Light on Me

Till Times Get Better and Smokehouse Blues are almost identical to Up a Lazy River

Ting-a-ling is also known as Waltz of the Bells

Tom Cat Blues is also known as Midnight Mama (or Midnight Papa) and is also known as Nobody Knows The Way I Feel This Morning LINKED TO Winin' Boy Blues

Two Nineteen Blues is also known as Mamie's Blues

Uptown Bumps (final theme) is also known as The Bucket's Got a Hole in It

Viper Mad is also known as Pleasure Mad

Washington and Lee Swing is also known as Tulane Swing and Louisiana Swing

Way Down upon the Swanee River is also known as The Old Folks at Home

Weary Blues is also known as Travelling Blues

When Shadows Fall is also known as Home

Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula is also known as Hawaiian Love Song

Please note that Red Onion Rag (by Abe Olman, 1912) is a quite different tune from Louis Dumaine's Red Onion Drag.

18 October 2014

Barnabus Jones of Tuba Skinny sings 'Do It Right'

I have enjoyed listening to Tuba Skinny on YouTube performing a fun song called Do It Right (not to be confused with other songs of the same name). Barnabus leads the community singing. Click here for the performance:

Reader Peter Killeen has kindly informed me this song (composed by someone credited only as Jones) was recorded (Columbia 14463) in 1929 by Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie (pseudonyms of Wesley Wilson and Harry McDaniels). To hear this on YouTube, type in 'Do It Right ~ Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie'. Or find it by clicking here.

It is essentially a typical 12-bar of the 1920s. It's easy to pick up if you would care to add it to your band's repertoire and the words are very clear in that original Columbia recording.

In August 2014 - I was told by a reader - Barnabus was still be to heard singing this song with the band when it was on tour in the state of Maine.

I have had a request from a reader for a leadsheet for this tune. Here's an attempt, which I hope is better than nothing: