20 March 2013


Erika Lewis

An Australian reader who introduced himself as relatively new to traditional jazz wrote to ask whether I could offer any help with He Likes It Slow (by W. Benton Overstreet), which he was having difficulty in picking up, having heard it played by Tuba Skinny. Like many who write to me, he over-estimated my powers!

However, I would suggest first going back (as Tuba Skinny must have done) to the 1926 recording featuring Butterbeans and Susie and Louis Armstrong.
Butterbeans and Susie

It is remarkably clear for a recording of such a vintage:

There's a simple Introduction and then a twelve-bar Verse, which is followed by a 20-bar (+2-bar tag) Chorus (with a 'break' on bars 7 - 8) making strong use of The Salty Dog Chord Progression. Note also how the band does a double-speed version of the first half of the Chorus as an interlude.

Tuba Skinny offer us a recording of this song on their CD Six Feet Down (made in 2010) and they are also seen performing it in several videos on YouTube, such as THIS ONE - CLICK ON TO VIEW. (Incidentally, they offer a full two choruses at the double tempo.)

The original Armstrong recording of 1926 was in the key of F. Tuba Skinny happily and brilliantly tackle it in Eb. The key suits Erika's voice perfectly, which is probably why they opted for it.

However, when Shaye (this time on piano) and Erika (singing) recorded the song again as a trio in a run-of-the-mill performance with Norbert Susemihl on trumpet, they played it in the key of F. I wonder why. If you wish to listen to this version,