11 April 2013

Post 42: 'BLUE DRAG'

I learn something every day. Recently I learned there is a good simple tune called Blue Drag. It seems to have been composed in 1932 by a Russian-born composer of film scores called Josef Myrow (1910 - 1987). He was a graduate of the Curtis School of Music and an extremely good pianist. His best-remembered song is perhaps You Make Me Feel So Young.

A kind American correspondent suggested I might enjoy watching a YouTube of The Thrift Set Orchestra (of Austin, Texas), playing Blue Drag. In this delightful video, the vocal is sung by Albanie Falletta and the band includes some familiar faces - players who are among the best in the world today.
It seemed to me this would be a very good tune to include in our programmes. It's fun to have a 'riffy' one occasionally, especially if, like this, it is in a minor key.

Blue Drag reminds me a little of Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen. But it makes a good alternative to that tune for use in concerts. The two songs seem to have a very similar harmonic pattern and the same structure:  a  a  b  a, with b (the Middle Eight) providing a perfect contrast to the riff.

My friends and I worked it out by ear, as well as we could, and it didn't sound at all bad when we tried playing it.

Even though this catchy number is new to me, perhaps some of you have known it for years. I find it was recorded long ago by such artists as Earl Hines, Freddie Taylor and Django Reinhardt.