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25 May 2017

Post 510: 'BALTIMORE'

The song Baltimore first came to my attention when I watched a YouTube video (filmed by the excellent RaoulDuke504) of Madeleine Reidy (Maddy and Her Jazz Friends) singing it in Royal Street, New Orleans, in 2016.
You may find the performance:
BY CLICKING HERE.
I discovered it was a song composed in 1927 by the great Jimmy McHugh. The lyrics were by Danny Healy and Irving Kahal.

I also soon realized it was not specifically about Baltimore the great seaport city in Maryland. It's about a dance craze called 'The Baltimore' that originated there. It was maybe something like the Black Bottom or the Charleston, though I guess far less popular.

The song has a 16-bar Verse and a 32-bar (aaba) Chorus and, in the sheet music, is in the key of Eb. Maddy plays and sings it in F, starting with an instrumental Chorus  and saving the Verse until the start of her vocal.

According to the lyrics, 'The Baltimore' seemed to involve 'swayin' like an old see-saw'. Apparently you 'count the beat, you double it, then repeat and then you slide your feet right over the floor...' (instructions I would find impossible to follow!). There is plenty of good rhythmic punctuation of the melody, especially in the Middle Eight. 

I thought it would be a good tune to learn and that it would be very helpful to see the sheet music.

My friend Mikko Vaisala, who runs the Doctor Jazz band in Finland, also took a fancy to this tune. He pointed out to me that there are many performances of it available on YouTube. Try THIS ONE (click on), for example, where again it is played in F.

And for a very slickly-orchestrated early version from Frankie Trumbauer (with Bix on cornet) CLICK HERE.

Good news it that, thanks to the kindness of the Sheet Music Archivist at The University of Missouri, Mikko was able to obtain a copy of the original sheet music. So there's no excuse now for us not to play it. Many thanks, Mikko.