Duke Ellington: St. James Infirmary
St. James Infirmary
Harlem Hot Chocolates
The Complete Hit of the Week Recordings, Volume 1 (Archeophone 3002)
Irving Mills (vocals), Arthur Whetsel, Freddie Jenkins (trumpets), Juan Tizol (trombones), Harry Carney (alto sax), Barney Bigard (tenor sax), Fred Guy (guitar), Wellman Braud (bass), Sonny Greer (drums).
Composed by Joe Primrose.
Recorded: March 1930
Rating: 85/100 (learn more)
Manager Irving Mills got some publisher royalty money from the sales of this flexible Hit of the Week record starring his clients, the Duke Ellington Orchestra. He is the vocalist as well, although short solos by Williams (not Tizol as has been written in some sources – this is clearly a trumpet), Hodges and Nanton are worth having.
Based on the rough sound and instrumental blending, and an arrangement that may have been thrown together quickly to get the side done, this was probably a one-take effort, and was a fast buck for everyone present. But it is one more example of what the Ellington band sounded like in its early incarnation, and though a lesser effort, it is still worth hearing. Clearly it was among the jazzier efforts by Hit of the Week, a label that featured white dance and studio bands geared more for the average listener than for the Cotton Club patron.
Reviewer: Jeff Sultanof