King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band: Riverside Blues


Riverside 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), Johnny St. Cyr (banjo), Baby Dodds (drums),

Charlie Jackson (bass saxophone)


Composed by Thomas A. Dorsey & Richard M. Jones


Recorded: Richmond, Indiana, October 26, 1923


Rating: 99/100 (learn more)

A work of joy and salvation, this stirring piece sets the stage with four funereal minor-key measures, then emerges into a triumphant relative major, where it stays for the duration. As with "Jazzin' Babies Blues," it comes from the mind of Richard M. Jones, who also wrote "Trouble in Mind." It was on a New Orleans gig with Jones that King Oliver out-blew Freddie Keppard and made his first mark. Writing credit here also goes to Thomas A. Dorsey, who would compose "Peace in the Valley" (covered by Elvis Presley) and become known as the "father of gospel."

In fact, with the dirge-like beginning, the whole piece recalls a gospel service. Two staunch blues choruses, with everybody participating, give way to successive stop-time segments where individual players get to testify as "church members" say Amen behind them. With Charlie Jackson added on bass saxophone, the pounding voicings make you want to bow your head.

Armstrong takes the last testament, his cornet seeming to herald the arrival of a king. His anticipated entrances seem to say that, at the ripe old age of 22, he understood the entire plight of mankind. Perhaps this is why he became known to all of mankind.

Reviewer: Peter Gerler

If you liked this track, also check out

King Oliver: Farewell Blues
King Oliver: Canal Street Blues
Freddie Keppard: Stock Yards Strut

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  • 1 Roger Strong // May 24, 2009 at 05:00 AM
    Just wonderful music-that should be in every jazz collection! I'm so glad that you gave it 99/100 - it's essential. I just read where a wonderful sound engineer said that he would give everything for a week to be sitting at the Dreamland listening to this music.