Sunday Jazz: Got them ol’ St. Louis Blues

Years ago I picked up a budget jazz CD set called Jazz Master Files. I figured I’d find three of four songs I liked on it — instead it turned out to be a treasure trove of excellent jazz covering most of the genre’s golden years. One of the tracks on it is a sizzling live performance of “St. Louis Blues” by Louis Armstrong and his band. I had never heard the song before, but instantly fell in love with it thanks to this version (sadly, the CD contained no information on the performance itself so I can’t place a date or venue).

Published in 1914 by W.C. Handy, “St. Louis Blues” remains one of the most popular and enduring songs in jazz history for good reason. It’s energetic and simple, yet has melody that just won’t quit. The most famous take of the song is probably the 1925 rendition from vocalist Bessie Smith, backed by Satchmo on cornet. For your enjoyment this Sunday, here’s a handful of other takes on “St. Louis Blues.”

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