24 July 2016

'Everybody Loves My Baby'

That spirited song Everybody Loves My Baby is in the repertoire of most traditional jazz bands. It is one that has stood the test of time. Why? Because it has a neat, memorable, repetitive melody, making clever use of a minor chord and its related major. The words are appealing and easy to learn. It even has a far better verse than many of the popular songs of its time.

Everybody Loves My Baby was composed in 1922 by Jack Palmer and Spencer Williams. Looking at a copy of the original piano sheet music, I'm impressed at how faithfully today's bands keep to the original, even many decades later. This is something rarely achieved!

I think it is partly because most musicians know the lyrics; and those lyrics fix in our minds the correct notes of the tune.

We find that Williams and Palmer published it in the key of G (with much use of the related E minor chord). Our jazz bands tend to prefer the key of F (with D minor), because this is easier for tuning and fingering.

The original sheet music offers an eight-bar Introduction and a couple of bars or repeatable 'patter' before the Verse. We now tend to discard these. But we play the 16-bar Verse (I'm as happy as a king, feelin' good 'n' ev'rything) pretty much as written.
The Chorus has a standard  A - A - B - A structure, with the A Sections dominated by that 'Minor' flavour.

The 'Middle Eight' is very effective, with the repeated, stuttering, notes (mainly on the tonic, though with changing chords beneath them.)

And the tune ends well.

'Fine,' you say. 'But is there any chance of hearing a really great band such as Tuba Skinny playing this tune?'

Yes, there is! It's on YouTube and we must be grateful to that excellent video-maker codenamed WildBill for putting it there. It's a storming performance (in the key of F). Shaye sets a cracking pace and is on her very best form, both in playing and in directing the traffic (note the Chorus in which she trades fours with Barnabus). Erika provides the vocal. There's even the bonus of Ben Polcer playing superbly on piano. In this version, they have chosen to omit the Verse, but who cares about that? CLICK HERE TO VIEW IT.

21 July 2016

'Let the Light from the Lighthouse Shine on Me'

I first heard the gospel song Let the Light from the Lighthouse Shine on Me in 1965. It was being played by one of the English traditional jazz revival bands.

I discovered that some think it was composed by Blind Willie Johnson (pictured above) who died in 1945. He certainly recorded it but it is probably an old gospel tune dating back to before even his time.

The correct title could be Let YOUR Light from the Lighthouse Shine on Me. That's what Blind Willie sings.

This is how I now play it on my keyboard. 

20 July 2016

Brain-Teaser: Result

Recently I offered you this brain-teaser sent in by James Sterling of Florida. 


I began a mind game with myself recently trying to list all of the traditional jazz song titles with New Orleans street and place names. The thought occurred that this might make a good brain-teaser for your blog. 

So far I have come up with:
Bourbon Street (Parade)
South Rampart Street (Parade)
Franklin Street (Blues)
Gravier Street (Blues)
Basin Street (Blues) (Stomp)
Burgundy Street (Blues)
Canal Street (Blues)
Perdido Street (Blues)
Bienville (Blues)
Storyville (Blues)
Milneburg (Joys)
West End (Blues)
St. James Infirmary
(Relaxing at ) The Touro
Well, here are some more that have been sent to me by blog readers. I'm not declaring a 'winner', though I must say the number of John Whitehorn's contributions amazed me!

Pontchartrain (Blues) - from John Whitehorn, Robert Duis, Jim Buck, Paul Morris and Barrie Marshall
(Sailing on) Lake Pontchartrain from Barrie Marshall
Algiers (Strut) - from John Whitehorn, Marinus-Jan Van Langevelde, Jim Buck, Paul Morris and Barrie Marshall
Algiers (Bounce) - from John Whitehorn
Astoria (Strut)- from John Whitehorn
Back 'o Town Blues - from John Whitehorn, Jim Buck and Paul Morris
(Blues for) Rampart Street - from John Whitehorn
(Moon Over) Bourbon Street - from Paul Morris
Congo Square - from John Whitehorn
Conti Street Parade from Barrie Marshall and from John Whitehorn
Dauphine Street (Blues) from John Whitehorn, Marinus-Jan Van Langevelde, Robert Duis and David Withers
Decatur Street (Blues) - from Robert Duis and Jim Buck and Barrie Marshall
Dumaine Street (Drag) - from John Whitehorn
Dumaine Street (Blues) - from Jean-Luc Rivier 
(Farewell to) Storyville - [aka Good Time Flat Blues] - from John Whitehorn and Paul Morris
French Market (Blues) [Tony Parenti]- from John Whitehorn
Gallatin Street (Grind)- from John Whitehorn
La Harpe Street Blues from John Whitehorn, Jim Buck
Mahogany Hall (Stomp) from John Whitehorn, Chris Rule and Barrie Marshall
House of the Rising Sun (?Well - O.K.) from Barrie Marshall 
Mississippi Mud (?Well - O.K.) - from Robert Duis
North Rampart Street (March) - from John Whitehorn
Bucktown Blues - from Robert Duis
Perdido Street (Stomp) - from Paul Morris
Red Onion (Drag) - from John Whitehorn
Red Onion (Blues) - from John Whitehorn
Tin Roof (Blues) from John Whitehorn and from Jim Buck
Toulouse Street (Lament) - from John Whitehorn
Toledano Street Blues - from John Whitehorn
Tulane (Swing) from John Whitehorn and from Bob Wright 
St. Philip Street (Breakdown) - from Henry Kiel, Marinus-Jan Van Langevelde, Susan Enefer and David Withers and Barrie Marshall and John Whitehorn

18 July 2016

'Panama Rag'

Panama Rag (originally entitled Panama, A Characteristic Novelty) became a 'standard' in the repertoire of traditional jazz bands. It dates back over 100 years, having been written by William H. Tyers in 1911. Tyers, born in Virginia, the son of former slaves, lived from 1870 to 1924. The piece of music (despite the cover shown above) possibly has nothing to do with the country Panama or the Panama Canal which was under construction at the time: it is said by at least one source to have been named in honour of Aida Overton Walker and Her Panama Girls - a music hall act.
Whatever the truth, it is a great number and can sound good no matter at what tempo you take it. I have heard it performed gently and sedately (for example by The Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra) and also in a driving, pulsating way by some jazz bands at festivals.

It can be strenuous to play, especially for the trumpeter, as there are five themes - all of which are usually repeated. I tried writing it out. It is normally played in Eb, modulating into Ab, so I have transposed it into F modulating into Bb to suit my Bb trumpet.

As usual, I have fitted it into my mini-filofax collection of tunes arranged alphabetically (between, as it happens, Painting The Clouds With Sunshine and Papa De Da Da).