Here’s a magnificent recording of Duke Ellington’s orchestra performing “Louisiana.” Back then there was no such thing as an overdub, much less any auto-tune or fancy editing software. Heck, you even had to mix the record while you were playing it into one mic! These cats could play for real. What a joy to hear such craft and art, delivered with humor and heart.
Not to be confused with the Suwannee River or any song about an old folks home, this is Duke Ellington’s lively piano solo classic “Swampy River,” and it just might make you dance on water.
Backed by her Georgia Jazz Band, here is the great Ma Rainey, reflecting on the joy and consequences of “Booze and Blues.” So good.
“I Wonder” was pre-war pianist and blues singer Cecil Gant’s first single. Released on Oakland’s Gilt-Edge Records, “I Wonder” is a romantic pop-tinged ballad which topped the R&B charts despite a wartime shellac shortage that hit tiny independent companies like Gilt-Edge particularly hard. Grab a glass of wine, cozy up with your lover, and let the beautiful voice of Cecil Gant remind you of what’s really important in life.