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Author Topic: Mississippi Blues  (Read 5568 times)

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Offline blueshome

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Mississippi Blues
« on: February 17, 2007, 07:56:37 AM »
Maybe old news - for months I've been trying to remember which Walter Davis track Willie Brown's Mississippi Blues is based on - unsurprising as I've tracked it down to Hard Times by Charlie Spand.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2007, 09:15:37 AM »
Am I being my usual dense self or do you mean William, rather than Willie, Brown?

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2007, 09:28:46 AM »
Here's a quick transcription of the Spand song taken from a battered LP

Lord, the time is so hard, the birds refuse to sing.
Lord, the time is so hard, the birds refuse to sing.
And no matter how I try, I can't get a doggone thing.

Lord, I walked and I walked, but I cannot find no job.
Lord, I walked and I walked, but I cannot find no job.
Lord, I can't talk if I got no money and I sure don't want to rob.

I've got a woman that's hard to get along with, is a sittin' hen (??).
I've got a woman that's hard to get along with, is a sittin' hen. (??)
I can't cook me a square meal, honey, in god knows when.

Everybody cryin' "Depression", I just found out what it mean.
Everybody cryin' "Depression", I just found out what it mean.
It means a man ain't got no money, he can't buy no fresh collard greens.

(now trying to locate the record which contains a Spand number entitled Mississippi Blues...)


Offline waxwing

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2007, 09:51:23 AM »
William Brown's Mississippi Blues was his reworking of the piano instrumental Sunrise Serenade, recorded a few years earlier by Frank (or Freddie?) Carle. I can't look it up right now but the info is in the River Of Song reissue of a lot of the Lomax recordings from the 1942 field trip.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2007, 10:40:14 AM »
I don't have that CD but I'm sure you are correct I can see it written somewhere in a discussion concerning the Brown tune that Sunrise Serenade was its inspiration being a million seller for Glen Miller on Victor in 1939. I think it was John Cowley writing in Blues World in late 60s.

Offline blueshome

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2007, 02:55:31 PM »
Well, Sunrise Serenade or not, the Spand tune is the same! BH do you know when it was released?

Offline blueshome

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2007, 03:13:53 PM »
Sorry to pop up again on this.
 Bunker - Spand's Mississippi Blues bears little relation tunewise to the W.Brown piece being a fairly straight ahead boogie beat.

Phil

Offline dj

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2007, 03:47:17 PM »
Quote
Spand's Mississippi Blues bears little relation tunewise to the W.Brown piece

But it does have some of the same motifs in the accompaniment.  Spand's Hard Times Blues was recorded in 1931.  Not sure when it was released, but since it was on Paramount, I guess it must have come out before the end of 1932.  I'm not familiar with Carle's "Sunrise Serenade", nor familiar enough with piano music of the era in general to tell whether those melodic motifs came to Carle via Spand or if they were just "in the air" at that time.   

Offline Richard

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2007, 03:56:24 PM »
Does seem a strange route, William Brown blues guitarist of the parish doing a cover in '42 of a '32 piece which was '39 Glenn Miller hit  ::)

This adds to the confusion -
Quote
.. recorded a few years earlier by Frank (or Freddie?) Carle. I can't look it up right now but the info is in the River Of Song reissue of a lot of the Lomax recordings from the 1942 field trip.

That reads as though Carle recorded it on the '42 field trip... the same year as Brown  ::)
« Last Edit: February 17, 2007, 03:57:41 PM by Richard »
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline waxwing

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2007, 06:02:37 PM »
From liner notes to Rounder Records, The Alan Lomax Collection, Deep River of Song - Mississippi: The Blues Lineage.
Quote
Mississippi Blues (AFS 6606-A1) Performed by William Brown (vocal and guitar) Recorded by Alan Lomax at Sadie Beck's Plantation, Arkansas, on July 16, 1942.

John Work identified Brown's intricate guitar part as "adapted freely, but beautifully" from Frankie Carle's 1939 hit "Sunrise Serenade."

Was Frankie Carle the piano player for Glenn Miller? Not being a jazzer I wouldn't know.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2007, 07:28:25 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline waxwing

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2007, 08:11:45 PM »
Found this on answers.com:
Quote
His[Carle's] signature tune was "Sunrise Serenade," which had been a hit for Glenn Miller after Carle co-authored it in 1938; he recorded his own version for Columbia in 1945.

So Brown must have been listening to the Miller record. No mention of Spand.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2007, 12:12:41 AM »
I asked a Glenn Miller 78 collector friend of mine to look at the composer credit on the label. It says "Lawrence-Carle" who I'm told were Jack Lawrence (words) and Frankie Carle (music) and was recorded 10 April 1939. Incidently the reverse is Moonlight Serenade which I'm told was Miller's radio signature tune and played three times a week until his death. But I'm veering away from topic.

Originally I misunderstood Blueshome's post taking it to mean lyrically, rather than musically, the same as Spand - hence the reason for reproducing the lyric of Hard Times. As to when Hard Times was released, I don't know. B&GR gives a recording date of c. Sept 1931 so as DJ suggests perhaps it was a melody that was already popular ("in the air") and picked up by Carle. We may yet come across blues recordings others than Spand or Brown which employ it.

(Waxwing, I have that LoC LP but didn't even consider looking at the notes. Obviously couldn't have taken much notice of them at the time!)
« Last Edit: February 18, 2007, 12:24:46 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline blueshome

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2007, 02:56:33 AM »
I have now had the opportunity to listen to the 3 tunes side by side.

The motif from W.Brown guitar part fits almost exactly C.Spand's piano motif. Try playing it!

To say that Brown's piece could be "loosely based" on Sunrise Serenade is true, but it would be very loose - if you really stretch there is some similarity, BIMHO not enough for Brown to have based his playing on it.

However, I feel that Bunker is on the right lines when he says the the tune may have been "in the air" and so I think it must have been a fairly common piano tune picked up by Mr.Brown. The differences between this theme and Sunrise Serenade are such that I don't think there is anything in common between them, Brown seems to have been to been a good enough musician to have reproduced Sunrise had he wished.

As to John Work, I am sure that he would have been far more conversant with the popular contempary music of Glenn Miller etc than that of downhome pianists and that would be the reason for his reference.

(I still think there is a Walter Davis recording with this motif out there - I'm sure I've heard it in the past somewhere.)

Offline Richard

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2007, 03:12:42 AM »
First to Sunrise Sernade, some confusion may be here as it was recorded by Glen Grays Casa Loma Orch in Feb 39 and Carle was the pianist... which preceeedes the Glen Miller April 39 recording  ::)
I would venture that it was the Glen GRAY recording that was copied if ever. Carle is also listed as playing banjo, what more could you want  :D although not on this, now there's a thought  :-X

Now to clarify a little..
Quote
Was Frankie Carle the piano player for Glenn Miller? Not being a jazzer I wouldn't know.
I wouldn't know either as I don't own a Glenl Miller record. However, it has to be said Glen Miller's pre '38 band (in his own name) did record some fair stuff in amogst the dross, but most of the later band is not really considerd 'jazz' per se, a fine dance band with some great players but not jazz...
« Last Edit: February 18, 2007, 03:21:34 AM by Richard »
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2007, 03:25:38 AM »
I have now had the opportunity to listen to the 3 tunes side by side.

The motif from W.Brown guitar part fits almost exactly C.Spand's piano motif. Try playing it!
I did and I heard the similarity immediately and was remiss of me not to mention it.
Quote
However, I feel that Bunker is on the right lines when he says the the tune may have been "in the air" and so I think it must have been a fairly common piano tune picked up by Mr.Brown.
Credit where credit is due, and that's to DJ I was just quoting him....

Offline waxwing

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2007, 08:05:21 AM »
However, it has to be said Glen Miller's pre '38 band (in his own name) did record some fair stuff in amogst the dross, but most of the later band is not really considerd 'jazz' per se, a fine dance band with some great players but not jazz...
Not being a jazzer, I wouldn't know. Why are we discussing this here?

I would like to hear the Spand side. eMusic?

All for now.
John C.



"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Johnm

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2007, 08:57:59 AM »
I think it's being discussed, John C., because everything pertains.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Richard

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2007, 11:10:06 AM »
Waxwing
Quote
Was Frankie Carle the piano player for Glenn Miller? Not being a jazzer I wouldn't know.

Since jazz and blues intertwine on so may occasions I was simply filling in a little more detail and a modicum of jazz history to enhance the topic.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2007, 12:39:31 PM by Richard »
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline dj

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2007, 11:26:39 AM »
Quote
I would like to hear the Spand side.

Hard Times Blues is on the Juke. 

Offline waxwing

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2007, 06:07:07 PM »
Having waited thru the Terry Bean interview, which played each half hour segment twice (?) I finally heard Charlie Spand's Hard Times Blues. That'll teach me to check the schedule before I make a request. Aside from a mild resemblence to the signature lick in the I chord and perhaps the boogie bass line that Brown goes to in some of his breaks (hardly idiosyncratic) I wouldn't really say this was definitively the source of Brown's arrangement. One point of note is that when Spand goes to the IV chord he merely moves the motif up the keyboard. Brown never does this, but creates a different motif, in the bass for the main theme, and in the treble in the boogie bass sections. Modern day rearrangers of Mississippi Blues, like Geremia and the video version by Tim Sparks that is making the round of country blues forums, do, indeed, move the motif up their 14 fret necks in one section or another, but, IIRC, Brown never did, in all of the many variations in the rather long recording afforded by Lomax's cherished reel to reel. Considering that he was likely capoed up 3 frets and either playing a 12 fret resonator, as some think, or a spanked Stella, as Dai Thomas suggested to me, I guess the argument could be made that he couldn't reach the motif to play it in the IV chord and had to work something else out, altho' he could have moved it over one string as he does the boogie bass pattern.

I have to admit that I was so intent on the piano that I didn't listen to the vocal melody, but I didn't really feel like I was listening to Mississippi blues with different lyrics.

Has anyone heard the Glen Gray's Casa Loma Orch version with Carle on piano that Richard sited? Sorry Phil, I have to think Work was referring to something that sounded closer to what William Brown is playing. You could say Brown's arrangement was suggested by the motif, but he certainly didn't copy it

One other note. I haven't heard anyone recreate the really cool turnaround that William Brown uses, which seems to be all his own. Most players seem to substitute a turnaround of their own. Sparks plays the treble postion in one pass but leaves off the concurrent bass walkdown. I originally learned it from what was presented as Rory Block's tab, which sounds pretty close to the original, and found it difficult, requiring some strong left thumb work, but not impossible. This turnaround seems to be all his own.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline blueshome

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2007, 03:59:22 AM »
I have now heard the Glen Gray Sunrise Serenade, and I have listened to the Glenn Miller, they are the same and whilst there is a resemblance and one can see why Work may have suggested it as a source, it is mile away from Miss.Blues, whereas the the basic motif of Hard Times is virtually identical to the latter's signature motif.

I don't think anyone has suggested that W.Brown made a note for note transcription of Hard Times - just that the basic motif was the same and that this motif would probably have been quite common amongst the blues pianists of the time and hence accessible to Brown. I am sure, as I said before that there are other piano versions out there.

There are some great versions of Mississippi Blues around. I also remember Roy Bookbinder claiming that he introduced it the the revival community in the 60's and that he was the only one who sang as well as played it.


Offline dj

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2007, 05:04:04 AM »
Walter Davis's "I'll Be Back After Awhile" is much closer to "Mississippi Blues" that is Charlie Spand's "Hard Times Blues".  Both use pretty much the same I and IV chord motifs, the melody, and the same boogie feel in the break.  Davis's piece was recorded March 21, 1941.  Not sure when it was released, but  it was on the fourth of five disks released covering the ten songs recorded at the March session, so probably in the fall of 1941.

Now I guess I've got to go back and see if Davis used the melody and accompaniment on an earlier recording.

Offline waxwing

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2007, 11:21:17 PM »
Nothing on Document Volume 5 (21 July 1939 to 12 july 1940), dj.

So I took a look at the lick, as played by Brown, and noticed that it is a walkdown from an A9th chord, thru an A6th to a pretty standard partial 5th position A. The 9th chord certainly speaks to the idea that this motif is a jazz influenced lick. Certainly the piano players were a main conduit for jazz influence on country blues.

So, I listened to Hard Times Blues again on the Juke and Spand is definitely using the same 9th to 6th to Root progression, but with a far simpler rhythm than William Brown. I reworked Brown's lick to sound more closely like Spand's piano lick. Have a listen to the attached mp3.

Actually this little exercise made me realise that in spite of being more in the bass, the IV chord section is more similar to Spand's motif than the I chord section, where Brown gets quite a different feel, adding a syncopation to the second and fourth iterations of the lick. this makes it come on the off beat, creating one of the main difficulties in learning this tune, namely that the alternating bass seems to be reversed, when actually the lick just comes on a different beat.

Anyway, not trying to prove anything here, just make things clearer. Any piano players out there who are familiar with this 9th to 6th to root walkdown in other numbers and even other guises. I agree that this must have been a fairly common melodic progression.

I couldn't find the Davis tune on the juke, dj, any chance you could post an mp3?

All for now.
John C.

"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Offline blueshome

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2007, 04:08:10 AM »
Thanks dj, I knew there was something else out there. Maybe we'll be able to find some more, I'm fishing around other players as well as W.Davis - R.Sykes is a possibility, he recorded so many songs.

Phil

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2007, 12:56:45 PM »
Listening to the Spand/Broon comparison, I'm thinking: that 's the same sequence as in Pinetop's Boogie Woogie (Clarence Smith, 1928)...anybody else hear that?

Offline dj

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Re: Mississippi Blues
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2007, 04:50:27 PM »
John C.

I tried to post an mp3 of "I'll Be Back After Awhile", but can't seem to compress it enough to fit it under the attachment limit.  I'll keep trying and get it one of these days.

 

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