Louis Armstrong & Sidney Bechet: Coal Cart Blues


Coal Cart Blues


Sidney Bechet (soprano sax) and Louis Armstrong (vocals, trumpet)


Sidney Bechet: Pre-War Classic Sides (JSP 933)

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Sidney Bechet (soprano sax), Louis Armstrong (vocals, trumpet), Wellman Braud (bass),

Bernard Addison (guitar)


Composed by Louis & Lil Armstrong


Recorded: New York, May 27, 1940


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Since the post-Civil War development of its rich bituminous beds, West Virginia's coalfields have been as treacherous as minefields. While jobs abounded, workers endured appalling health-&-safety hazards. The 20th century, however, brought mechanization. By 1940, 70% of coal mined in the state was loaded mechanically. Mountaineers found the only thing worse than being a mineworker was being an unemployed mineworker. This track dramatizes industrialization's double-edged sword. "The cart was hard and almost killed me up," Satchmo relates with an authority born of his own youthful experience pushing such carts through New Orleans' notorious Storyville district. Post-cart, however, "I'm about to lose my very mind." Never was Paul Whiteman's aphorism "Jazz is the folk music of the Machine Age" better demonstrated.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz


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