To help us remember an important segment of our past musically, in 1947 will come, says the ball, a little film directed by Arthur Lubin titled New Orleans. Supporting players Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong will deftly portray characters who become romantically involved. And they will make some fine music together. The film is to be set in the red light district of New Orleans, called Storyville, during its final days. The district existed from 1897 to 1917; it was created in effort to limit prostitution to one area of the city.
Songbook has been warned that New Orleans historians might become irate at the suggestion that jazz was born in Storyville. That is not our purpose. But we shall sooner or later get the truth out them — the real birthplace. Vee haf vays uf making zem talk.
Where the Blues Was Born in New Orleans (w. m. Cliff Dixon, Bob Carleton) – Performed by Louis Armstrong and His Band, featuring introductions of each band member by Armstrong, in this order: Charlie Beal – piano, Kid Ory – trombone, Zutty Singleton – drums, Barney Bigard – clarinet, Bud Scott – guitar and cigar, Red Callendar – bass, and himself – cornet. He calls it Satchmo’s Happy Dixie Band.
(above) Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Barney Bigard perform the number “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans” in the 1947 film New Orleans
Each of the following three songs are performed by Louis Armstrong and His Band with vocals by Billie Holiday.
Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans (m. Louis Alter, w. Eddie DeLange) – According to IMDb, the song is performed in the film four times.
The Blues are Brewin’ (m. Louis Alter, w. Eddie DeLange)
Farewell to Storyville (w. m. Spencer Williams)
West End Blues (m. Joe Oliver, w. Clarence Williams) – published and first recorded in 1928
Armstrong and His Band, at the beginning of the film, after the opening credits/New Orleans Stomp — It starts at about 1:23
Louis Armstrong — live in Milan, Italy, 19 December 1955
Trumpet: Louis Armstrong
Trombone: Trummy Young
Piano: Billy Kyle
Drums: Barrett Deems
Basin Street Blues (Spencer Williams) – published in 1926 – IMDb suggests that the soundtrack of New Orleans might have included a recording of this song by Louis Armstrong and His Band. It’s one of several listed as “Possibly played instrumentally or cut from the movie.”
There are several other songs performed in the film but not yet included or mentioned here. I’m not holding out on you. I just haven’t found them. Later versions, perhaps, but not the film clips or soundtrack recordings. I’ll lay them out here just as soon as I catch ’em. The following are presently missing. (credits adapted from IMDb):
Hot Time in the Old Town (m. Theo. A. Metz, w. Joe Hayden)
Played as background music when the Dixie Bell riverboat is shown
Maryland, My Maryland – 1861
Music based on the German Christmas carol “O Tannenbaum”
Lyrics by James Ryder Randall
Played by Louis Armstrong and His Band at the dock
Buddy Bolden’s Blues*
Played by Louis Armstrong and His Band and sung by Louis Armstrong
Fantasie-Impromptu in C Sharp Minor, Op.66 (Frédéric Chopin)
Played on piano by Richard Hageman (dubbed by Arthur Schutt)
Honky Tonk Train Blues
Written and played on piano by Meade ‘Lux’ Lewis
Endie (m. Louis Alter, w. Eddie DeLange) – 1947
Played by Louis Armstrong and His Band, vocal: Billie Holiday, in Paris
Other songs which IMDb lists as “Possibly played instrumentally or cut from the movie.” include:
- Milenberg Joys (m. Leon Rappolo, Paul Mares, Jelly Roll Morton) 1923
- Dippermouth Blues (King Oliver, Louis Armstrong) 1923
- Beale Street Blues (W. C. Handy) 1916
- Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble (Spencer Williams) 1917
- Mahogany Hall Stomp (Spencer Williams) 1928(?)
- King Porter Stomp (Jelly Roll Morton) 1923
Buddy Bolden’s Blues (see footnote below re: contested authorship)*
Jelly Roll Morton, two versions, dates unknown. The opening eight lines in the first recording go like this. These lines are varied somewhat in the second version.
I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say
You’re nasty, you’re dirty –Take it away
You’re terrible, you’re awful — Take it away
I thought I heard him say
I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout
Open up that window, and let that bad air out
Open up that window, and let the foul air out
I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say
St. Louis Tickle (Theron Catlan Bennett)*
Dave Van Ronk arrangement performed by Michael Neverisky and posted on his Youtube channel, FrostyMorn.
* ASCAP credits Jelly Roll Morton (MORTON, Ferdinand Joseph) as the sole author of Buddy Bolden’s Blues. However, there remains disagreement among other authorities as to who actually wrote the song. While numerous sites credit the composition to Morton, Redhotjazz.com identifies a 1939 recording by Jelly Roll Morton as a traditional with an arrangement by himself. An article by Barbara White at allaboutjazz.com names Bolden as the composer. Wikipedia notes that Bolden’s trombonist Willy Cornish claimed authorship, but they also point to an “early” ragtime song which incorporated the “strain” of Buddy Bolden’s Blues or Funky Butt,** namely St. Louis Tickle.
According to folk and recorder music historian, discographer, and audio file compiler Geoff Grainger,
St. Louis Tickle, written under the pseudonym of Barney & Seymour, was [Theron Catlan] Bennett‘s contribution to a plethora of musical items celebrating the 1904 St Louis Exposition. Here he was in the notable company of ragtimers such as Scott Joplin (The Cascades (1904)), Thomas Million Turpin (St. Louis Rag (1903)), Kerry Mills (Meet Me in St Louis, Louis (1904)) and others.
** Wikipedia’s profile of Buddy Bolden seems to indicate that Funky Butt is the original title of the number later to be called Buddy Bolden’s Blues. Other alternate titles include The Funky Butt Blues, I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say, and I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Shout. All are derived from the lyrics.