8 February 2016


Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet was composed as long ago as 1909 by Percy Weinrich and Stanley Murphy. It's one of those 'Good Ol' Good Ones' that has truly stood the test of time. It is still popular with the traditional jazz bands of today.

However, versions of this tune by jazz bands on YouTube are mostly disappointing and they nearly all omit the excellent trotting verse. When I was in New Orleans in April 2016, I heard one of the best bands giving an exhilarating performance that included the Verse. Sadly, I was not videoing at the time.

But there is a historic (non-jazz) recording that is interesting to study: you get the full works, plus the lyrics: Click here to listen. In this version, the Verse is in G; the Chorus in C.

It's a super number for any band but I would specially recommend it to learners because - if you play the Verse as well as the Chorus - you have two good tunes for the price of one. Also, it is fairly easy to play and improvise on.

The Verse (32-bars structured AABA) uses the simple I-II-V-I chord progression (known as The Four Leaf Clover Progression) for the three 'A' sections. And the Middle Eight is basic too: II7-V-II7-V-VI7-II7-V7-V7.

The song changes to the related key (in effect, dominant to tonic) for the Chorus. This is the part on which musicians improvise. There are only sixteen bars and the Progression is straightforward (Think The Apple Tree Progression [I-IV-I] and The Four Leaf Clover Progression again).

Here is the tune. This is shown with the Chorus in Concert Bb - the key generally used in traditional jazz because it is the most comfortable for players.