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Posts Tagged ‘Louis Armstrong

“I went down to St. James Infirmary / Saw my baby there”*…

One of the greatest of American songs is “St. James Infirmary,” and it is also one of the most mysterious, with a cloudy and complicated history. Despite the credit on the record pictured above to Don Redman, no one knows who wrote the song, and its lyrics are endlessly variable. Here’s how Louis Armstrong sang it:

I went down to St. James Infirmary,

Saw my baby there,

Stretched out on a long white table,

So cold, so sweet, so fair.

Let her go, let her go, God bless her,

Wherever she may be,

She can look this wide world over,

But she’ll never find a sweet man like me. 

When I die, want you to dress me, straight-lace shoes,

Box-back coat and a Stetson hat.

Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain, 

So the boys’ll know that I died standin’ pat. 

He first recorded the song in 1928, and then re-recorded it in 1959. (That second link says that it’s the 1928 version, but it isn’t: it’s from Armstrong’s outstanding 1959 album Satchmo Plays King Oliver.) The funeral-march pace of the later recording fits the lyrics’ mood better, I think, that the speedier early version. And Armstrong’s vocal on that later version is one of his very finest. 

Wynton Marsalis’s staggering song “The Death of Jazz,” from his 1989 album The Majesty of the Blues, is musically so close to Armstrong’s 1959 recording of “St. James Infirmary” that it’s almost a cover. Listening to the two songs back-to-back is an education in the resources of the blues tradition – and of certain folk traditions that pre-date the blues. 

The Wikipedia page for “St. James Infirmary” traces its history quite effectively, following the various dim paths back to England and Ireland. I’d give a lot to know where this unsettling masterpiece of American music really came from – if such a question can be answered at all.

As the blues became jazz: an appreciation of an American classic, from Alan Jacobs (@ayjay)

* “St. James Infirmary”

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As we note that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, we might recall that it was on this date in 1951 that guitarist Willie Kizart, playing with Ike Turner’s band at a session in Memphis produced by the (later famous) Sam Phillips, recorded what most believe is the first recorded example of electric guitar distortion. The legend of how the sound emerged holds that Kizart’s amplifier was damaged when the band was driving from Mississippi to Memphis. On arriving and discovering the problem, Kizart stuffed the amplifier with wadded newspapers to hold the cone in place– and unintentionally created a distorted sound. Phillips liked it and used it (though when he sold the rights to Chess records, he credited “Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats,” who were actually “Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm”).

The song that they recorded, “Rocket 88,” is considered by many to have been the first rock and roll record– for which it has earned berths in he Blues Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Singles.

“The challenge is not so much to change the sound. The challenge is to connect and to create something special.”*…

How dare these women take such liberties with Vivaldi and other greats?! I’m shocked … SHOCKED I tell you!

In honesty, I’m quite impressed. The women of Salut Salon quartet — Angelika Bachmann (violin), Iris Siegfried (violin and vocals), Anne-Monika von Twardowski (piano) and Sonja Lena Schmid (cello) — combine virtuosity, acrobatics and a sense of fun in their performances. The result is surprising, enchanting and overall, entertaining.

According to their official bio, the Salut Salon musicians “share the same humor. They love to laugh, they laugh a lot, especially at the things that go terribly wrong, even in front of an audience.”

As this video shows, they’re not afraid to take risks — in fact, they seem absolutely fearless on stage…

Are these women the Harlem Globetrotters of piano quartets?

* Gustavo Dudamel

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As we fondly remember Victor Borge, we might recall that it was on this date in 1931 that Cab Calloway recorded “Minnie the Moocher,” the first jazz record to sell one million copies and the song that cemented the popularity of “scat” singing (which had been first popularized in 1926 by Louis Armstrong’s “Heebie Jeebies.”)

“There are old bikers and there are bold bikers, but there are no old, bold bikers”*…

 

film-the-wild-one-with-brando-on-a-bike-opening-scene

 

Harley knows what it’s future looks like with, perhaps by as soon as next year, more sales internationally than in the U.S., the continuation of a long-term trend. It’s desperately trying to prop up U.S. sales, but the LiveWire hasn’t been selling great, and its core demo is aging out. Revenue numbers for 2019 released today were also a lot worse than expected.

Let’s go to Reuters first off for some of the numbers:

Motorcycle revenue fell an annual 8.5% to $874.1 million in the December quarter, faster than a 3.4% fall predicted by analysts in a Refinitiv survey.

Its shares, after falling as much as 7%, pared losses to trade 2.5% lower at $33.96 on Tuesday afternoon…

Its bike sales in America last year were the lowest in at least 16 years. Falling sales in the past 12 quarters have forced the company to tighten the supply of its bikes to prevent price discount pressure and protect profit.

In 2019, the shipment volume of its bikes in the United States was the lowest in at least two decades. Global shipments were the lowest since 2010.

In a reflection of the demographic headwind, the motorcycle maker’s stock price has declined by 44% in the past five years. By comparison, the S&P 500 Index .SPX has gained 63%…

Most worryingly for Harley, they are posting falling sales numbers at a time when the economy is strong…

Tough times for an American icon: “Harley-Davidson’s Slow Decline Is Getting Hard To Watch.”

[TotH to RW]

[Image above, from The Wild One: source]

* Evel Knievel

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As we downshift, we might recall that it was on this date in 1864 that The Knights of Pythias– the first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an act of the U.S. Congress– was formed in Washington, D.C.  There are over 2,000 Pythian lodges in the United States and around the world; it’s members have included William Jennings Bryan, Louis Armstrong, and Nelson Rockefeller.  During the “Golden Age of Fraternalism” in the early 1920s, the order had nearly a million members; its current count is around 50,000.

Knightsofpythias source

 

“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.”*…

 

Decode the pictures above– and experience synesthesia– at “This Is What Musical Notes Actually Look Like.”

* Leopold Stokowski

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As we move to the music of the spheres, we might send tuneful birthday greetings to Louis Armstrong; he was born on this date in 1901.  A trumpeter, composer, singer (and occasional actor), he was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance, and helping to pioneer scat singing.  Nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, he has 11 records in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 4, 2016 at 1:01 am

The Culture of Commerce, Advertising and Marketing Edition…

In an infographic!

click the image above, or here, to enlarge

More of creator George Ellis’ work on his website, The George Report. [TotH to Mediabistro]

As we insist that the bartender reach for the top shelf, we might recall that it was on this date in 1964 that the Beatles’ stranglehold on the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 was broken.  From the leap of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to #1 in early February, the Fab Four held the pinnacle for three and a half solid months– longer than any popular artist before or since.  Over the course of those months, the they scored three consecutive #1 singles (also a record); held all five spots in the top five in early April (another record); and had a total of 14 songs in the Hot 100 in mid-April (yet another record).   But on this date in 1964, they were pushed off the peak by an unlikely challenger: 63-year-old Louis Armstrong and “Hello, Dolly!”

source

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