King Oliver: Canal Street Blues (alternate review)


Canal Street Blues


King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band


Off The Record: The Complete 1923 Jazz Band Recordings (Archeophone OTR-MM6-C2)

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Joe 'King' Oliver (cornet), Louis Armstrong (cornet), Honoré Dutrey (trombone), Johnny Dodds (clarinet), Lil Hardin (piano), Baby Dodds (drums),

William M. Johnson (banjo)


Composed by Joseph Oliver & Louis Armstrong


Recorded: Richmond, Indiana, April 5, 1923


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

The first strain of this original blues by Joe Oliver has often been misinterpreted due to poor reissues of the original recording: What sounds like one cornet playing fully throughout each measure is actually a call and response by two cornets. The second strain (3rd chorus) is based on the famous 19th-century sacred song “The Holy City.” But what is really important here is the unity with which this ensemble performs and their collective lilt, swing and conviction. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fifth chorus where the ensemble sails into a most deliberate and compelling riff – one that presages the swing bands of the 1930s. Following two solo choruses by Johnny Dodds (accompanied by the “walking bass” of Bill Johnson’s 6-string banjo) the band reiterates the previous riff for two joyous choruses. The anachronistic two-bar coda, built on the augmented 5th of the key, is perhaps the only reminder that this was recorded in 1923.

Reviewer: David Sager

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