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29 July 2014

Traditional Jazz: 'Lily of the Valley' and Tuba Skinny

I received this comment in an email from clarinet-player David, who lives in Kent, England:

One of the things I like about Tuba Skinny is the way they seem to get loads of pleasure out of simple numbers like Heah Me Talkin' even though capable of brilliantly performing complex King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton arrangements like Deep Henderson and Kansas City Stomp.

David is so right. And one of the latest Tuba Skinny videos well illustrates what he is saying.

I bet when you first heard Lily of the Valley years ago, you liked it. But over the years, you have come to think of it as a dull, repetitive and boring three-chord-trick tune. (Many jazzers have the same experience with When The Saints.)

But now Tuba Skinny have added Lily of the Valley to their repertoire and suddenly it has become sensational!

They play a slightly up-tempo version in the key of Eb with extraordinary variations from clarinet, trombone and cornet. Note for example the clarinet (played by Craig Flory) between 2 minutes 5 seconds and 2 minutes 35 seconds. Todd on tuba is also given a chance to shine.
They have wisely resisted the temptation to include a vocal (I don't think this song would suit Erika) or a washboard solo, both of which would be surplus to requirements in this particular interpretation. And notice how - being Tuba Skinny! - they provide an unusual ending, playing the first sixteen bars twice: spot the signal from Shaye at 4 minutes 21 seconds.

May I recommend this video to you? (With a big thank you to my pen-friend Al - digitalalexa - for filming it.)