29 March 2015


A reader asked me who composed Salamanca Blues, which can be heard on Tuba Skinny's 2012 CD 'Rag Band'.

Shaye  (Photo courtesy of an Australian correspondent)
Well, it was composed by none other than Shaye Cohn. As performed on the CD, it is a short, unpretentious, medium-tempo, charming and melodic piece, without a vocal. The whole thing is over in less than three minutes and it comprises just 76 bars (measures), which are made up of six segments:

1. 12-bar simple blues in F, firmly stated as a trombone solo by Barnabus Jones.

2. 16-bar soaring theme in F, just as firmly stated on Shaye's cornet - starting on the high F. There is some lovely tremolo support from the banjo and the harmonies are beautiful.

3. A key change! With no modulation, the full ensemble is straight and decisively led by the cornet into a 12-bar blues in Ab.

4. A second 12-bar ensemble in Ab.

5. Another 12-bar in Ab, this time stated by the banjo with (from Jonathan Doyle's clarinet) some cascading sweetness over a Db chord and also a two-bar solo 'break' - the only break in the 76 bars.

6. A final 12-bar ensemble blues chorus, again firmly started by Shaye on the high F - turning the chord into an Ab6. But, with a slight rallentando, all is brought to a calm neat ending.

Why did Shaye call her composition Salamanca Blues? I don't know. But my guess is it was named for Salamanca in Spain. Tuba Skinny have visited that country, though it seems Shaye may have composed it during a tour in Australia.

That excellent video-maker codenamed TheWsm0 filmed the band reviving the tune in 2018, during the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans:
Why not buy the CD, which also contains such treats as Jackson Stomp, Banjoreno and Russian Rag?