13 January 2016

Post 363: 'JUBILEE'

I was lucky enough to be at The Spotted Cat in New Orleans on 9 April 2016, when The Shotgun Jazz Band, in eight-piece form, played a rollicking tune called 'Jubilee'. Not only that; I managed to make a video of it - one you can watch by CLICKING HERE.

This tune was new to me, so when I returned to England, I set about trying to find out who wrote it and when. The first thing I discovered was that there was not much evidence of it on YouTube. There were several songs with the word 'Jubilee' in the title, but not one of them was the tune I had heard - until I came to one solitary video of a jazz trio playing it in 1991.

So it does not seem to be a tune in the standard repertoire of our bands. This is a pity, as it deserves to be. May I recommend it to band-leaders?

With help from my American correspondent Larry Smith, I learned the song was composed by none other than Hoagy Carmichael, with words by Stan Adams. They wrote it for a 1937 film called 'Every Day's a Holiday', in which Mae West and Louis Armstrong both appeared.
Louis Armstrong at the front of the Parade Band
in the film 'Every Day's a Holiday' (1937).
When you first listen to the tune, you sense that mastering the chord progression should be easy enough. And you also feel that the song has a 'tag'. You discover that it is a tune of 36 bars, unlike the common 32-bar form. What has happened is that Bars 29 and 30 are repeated twice, thereby spinning out the ending, so that it becomes a 36-bar song.

The Shotgun Jazz Band played the tune in the key of Eb Concert; and it went something like this:
If you would like the words, you can get them direct from Louis Armstrong at 50 seconds into this historic film extract:  CLICK HERE.

As for chords, you may be able to get away with a simplified version, for example:
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
III
III
III
III
III
III
III
III
IV
IV
IVm
IVm
I
I
II7
V7
I
I
I
VI7
II7
V7
II7
V7
II7
V7
IIm:V7
I
(It is a 36-bar tune)

But if you are happy to work at something more sophisticated, try this:
I:VIm7
IIm7:V5
I:VIm7
IIm7:V5
I:V7
I:V7
I
I
III:I#m
IV#m:VII7
III:I#m
IV#m:VII7
III:VII7
III:VII7
III
III
IV
IV
IVm
IVm
I
I
VIm6
VII7
I:VIm
IIm7:V7
I
VI7
II7
V7
II7
V7
II7
V7
IIm7:V7
I
(It is a 36-bar tune)
John Dixon, who is to be seen laying down the chords in the Shotgun Jazz Band video, has read this article and has kindly sent me this very helpful information - an even simpler way of approaching it:
For purposes of learning the chord progression, it’s easier to think of it as I, vi, ii, V in Eb, and then I, vi, ii, V in G (or the 3rd of whatever your root is), as it really swaps keys and it makes it easier to shout out the changes to someone on the fly. The whole thing is more like an exercise in technique than a regular tune. 

Footnote:
While doing my little bit of research, I came across a suggestion that Jubilee had actually been written at least ten years earlier, because there is a 1928 recording by Frankie Trumbauer and His Orchestra of a tune called Jubilee. So I checked the Trumbauer recording and can confirm it is a quite different tune, even though it has the same title. Trumbauer's tune was actually written by Willard Robison (the composer of A Cottage For Sale).