13 June 2015

Post 223: 'SMOKY MOKES'

In my ongoing quest to keep alive some of the good old jazz numbers that are so rarely heard and so hard to obtain, I have worked on Smoky Mokes - a raggy tune with three 16-bar themes and including a key change. It dates from 1898 and was written by Abe Holzmann, though I don't know of any shop where I could buy the sheet music (below) today.
Australian correspondent Brian Hutchinson, who is also interested in the wonderful old tunes, has informed me that - with some internet research - you  can find such help as a YouTube video of a piano player version with a 'bouncing ball' play-along visual cue. And on Classic Banjo UK he found a downloadable arrangement for two banjos and piano. Perhaps best of all in the Duke University Digital Collection he discovered 'for educational purposes' the full original piano sheet music.

So, especially if you are a pianist and you want to learn the tune accurately, I would recommend you check out those sources.

I believe traditional jazz bands 'edited' the original composition - as so often happened with such piano originals. The essence and spirit of the piece were captured; but some of the trickier runs - easy enough on the piano - were simplified for the cornet player.

So it ended up with a lead-sheet something like this, which I have tried on both my keyboard and my cornet. It sounds fine.