5 August 2017


'Come Back Sweet Papa', composed by Paul Barbarin and Luis Russell, was recorded by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five in Chicago on 22 February, 1926. You can hear that two-and-a-half-minute recording by clicking here.

Paul Barbarin
'Come Back Sweet Papa' has a good melody and is fairly easy to play, especially as its chord progression is simple. The 16-bar Verse makes good use of the 'Nowhere Chord'; and the Chorus is a straightforward 32-bar (16 + 16, with a 'break' on Bars 15 and 16, as in dozens of other traditional jazz classics).

I used to play this tune ten years ago but, when I needed it recently, I had to re-learn it and was reminded what a good tune it is. I keep it in one of my mini-filofaxes (see below), where I had written it out in the transposed key of C (correct for the trumpet and other Bb instruments) but of course that means Concert Bb to the band as a whole.

Armstrong chose to use six bars from the final eight of the Chorus as the basis for an Introduction; and his band played the Verse only in the middle of the recording, as a sort of Interlude. The Hot Five also added a neat little four-bar Coda of stop chords. But of course it is up to any band today to treat the total 16 bars of Verse and 32 bars of Chorus in any way and order that they like.

Isn't it amazing, by the way, that you can get all the information you need to play a great jazz classic on just 20 square inches of notepaper?

But you can find a much tidier - and probably more accurate - lead-sheet on the site of the great Lasse Collin, at: