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Friday, September 2, 2011

"St. James Infirmary Blues"

Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five - St. James Infirmary Blues (1929)

First mistake I have found in the book. The recording that the book talks about, specifically mentioning Earl Hines piano before Armstrong's vocals, then a trombone, then a Armstrong solo and released in 1929 is actually by Louis Armstrong and His Savoy Ballroom Five. It took me a while to track the proper recording of this song down because of this mistake, but here it is. Looks like it won't embed properly, but the link works.



The version you hear if you type in "... His Hot Five" is probably from the mid to late 50's and you can tell, in that the audio quality is too good.

I really like this song. And I really like Louis Armstrong. So does the editor of the book. This is the sixth song in the book. Four are in a language other than English. The two that are in English feature Louis Armstrong. The song is based on an older English folk song called The Unfortunate Rake. That song has changed and morphed and had many variations over the years, and St. James Infirmary Blues is one of the most famous. The other is Streets of Laredo.

I just don't have much to say on the song. I love it, and I don't really know why. Hines piano underneath Armstrong's vocals is constant, and yet doesn't cover him up. The short solo he takes at 1:50 is movement and sadness combined, it reminds me of Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre played on xylophone

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