This is Louis Armstrong on West End Blues, also a clip from Ken Burns’ PBS series Jazz, with beautiful images of the town which has slipped away.
This is a very famous song, and that should be Earl Hines on piano. I am not a great jazz expert, but I did write a paper on jazz and literature once for school. I spent hours in an excellent music library where they had all of these Okeh records.
Now this clip is unusual, and it is worth putting up with the muddy quality of the video for that reason. Eva Taylor (Irene Gibbons), the “Dixie Nightingale,” performs the Sugar Blues with the Peruna Jazzmen in Copenhagen (1975).
Have you heard these blues
that I’m gonna sing to you?
When you hear them they will thrill you
through and through
They’re the sweetest blues you ever heard
now listen and don’t say a word
everybody’s singing the sugar blues
the whole towns ringing
My loving man sweet as can be
but the doggone fool’s
turned sour on me
I’m so unhappy
feel so unhappy
I could lay me down and die
You could say what you choose
but I’m all confused
I got the sweet, sweet sugar blues
I’ve got the sugar blues.
In the fifth part of Early Years of Jazz, we learn about the legendary Buddy Bolden, who never recorded. At least one band has worked to reconstruct of the Buddy Bolden sound, which included swinging ‘hot’ music with wicked lyrics.
Bolden’s career was cut short because he developed a form of dementia and was confined to the state insane asylum at Jackson. I drove past Jackson twice today, on the way to and from the state penitentiary at Angola.
This is the raciest section of the documentary, with pictures from Storyville. Have you heard “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor (So Your No-good Man Will Never Know)”? The sixth and final clip of this series is here, and all of these clips are from the first episode of Ken Burns’ PBS series, Jazz. Here is a slightly longer cut on Bolden, that overlaps somewhat with the one we have just seen.
In case you wonder why I went to Angola, it was to attend the spring crafts fair. It reminds me of country fairs in Latin America, and it is a far better venue in which to relax and exchange news than the visiting shed. One of my friends has a booth there, and today his sign said, GOING HOME SALE.
Here in the fourth part of Early Years of Jazz, we see how Jim Crow turned Creoles Black. The music of these new mixed bands would, of course, be New Orleans jazz.
This is the third part of Early Years of Jazz. Neither ragtime nor the blues were born in New Orleans, but they met here.
One rag was called Dance of the Lunatics (An Idiotic Rave). And Branford Marsalis says the blues are about freedom.
This is the second part of Early Years of Jazz, and my favorite part so far, focusing on nineteenth century New Orleans, our Caribbean city. I would have loved to visit then, and hear the accents in Creole and French.
“Jazz music objectifies America. It is an art form that can give us a painless way of understanding ourselves,” says Wynton Marsalis at the beginning of Early Years of Jazz – Part 1. This film is a Florentine Films production about which I am trying to discover more. Part 6, which we have already seen, engages and to some extent, propagates certain cliches and stereotypes. This part does a lot more of that. The are rare photographs, the soundtrack and the display of stereotypes and prejudices make this a panoramic introduction to the old America and helps to contextualize the current one.
Now it is said that rap music has eroded our moral fiber, but in 1914 Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., proclaimed that “the Negro race [was] dancing itself to death” with ragtime. The white race was doing the same, and lessons had to be given on how to dance without moving the shoulders or the hips. Years later Jelly Roll Morton still disapproved of the way dancers in those early years had been “shakin’ it, and breakin’ it, in an uncultured way.” You can hear all about it right here, on the sixth part of the Early Years of Jazz. I will be posting other parts of this film, intermittently and not necessarily in order, as I, too, have been Africanized and corrupted.