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Jim Besser

Tune Of The Month, March 2014: The St. James Infirmary

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I confess: I was surprised at the lopsided vote for the St. James Infirmary, given recent trends in TOTM polls. But that doesn't mean I’m not happy with the popular choice. Far from it: this is a tune with all sorts of possibilities for creative concertinists.

 

The only concertina version I know is played and sung by Will Duke on the superb Anglo International CD set curated by our own Alan Day. If you don’t have the CD set, buy it, even if you play English or Duet; there’s much great music there.

 

I’m not a singer, and for us who are vocally impaired, this month's challenge will be to take this simple, short tune with only one part and make it interesting for more than 30 seconds. That means going beyond the simple melody with creative chording, runs and variations. Liberate the jazz and blues musician in you!

 

If you’re a singer, all the better. I can only imagine the great sound Jody Kruskal could squeeze out of this song.

 

Here’s a clip that will give you a flavor of the tune in its early form.

 

One of my favorite versions is the classic by Cab Calloway.

 

Is it notation you want? Here ya go.

 

But remember: even more than usual, the notation is meant as just a starting point.

 

And once again: perfection is not the goal here. Nor is the TOTM just for experienced players. It's fun and educational for players at every level.

 

So what are you waiting for?

Edited by Jim Besser

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That's great - I'm up to it! :)

 

(albeit still working on the approriate mazurka touch...)

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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I recorded this tune back in 2012 with words by fiddlin' Arthur Smith.

Chittlin' Cookin' Time In Cheatham County

http://jodykruskal.com/tune_of_the_month/february_2012.html

 

How did I miss this?

 

Wonderful version, I knew you'd have something! A perfect example of what I meant when I said there's a lot a concertinist can do with this tune.

 

A concertina in the right hands, of course. A goal to aim for!

 

Thanks.

Edited by Jim Besser

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I've gone all multi-tracked this month:

  • baritone & treble concertinas,
  • a software bass concertina (made by dropping the baritone an octave in software),
  • and even a non-concertina interloper from my other life in the form of a G whistle.

Timings are a bit jazz in places, but hey, that's jazz ...

 

https://soundcloud.com/sfmans/st-james-infirmary-concertina

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Very nice, Steve, particularly from where the whistle is entering! :)

(edited to remove embarrassing mistake)

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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O.k., here it is, my very first attempt on a "Blues" with the concertina:

St. James Infirmary

Have worked pretty much on the text (which I really learned to love; apparently an erractic mixture of two distinct, any older songs) in order to leave as much as possible to the listener. Played and sang it for I'd guess some two hours within the last few days and am, "as usual", not quite content (having messed things up at the end, timing not consistent as it should be, textual articulation to be improved, a.s.f.) But as to an uncut recording, that's what I'm capable of for the moment. Will have to develop improvising skills here (as I have them with the piano) in the future anyway...

As always, any comments appreciated! :)

Thank you in advance for the attention - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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.

 

The only concertina version I know is played and sung by Will Duke on the superb Anglo International CD set curated by our own Alan Day. If you don’t have the CD set, buy it, even if you play English or Duet; there’s much great music there.

 

 

Jim on Anglo International Harry Scurfield and Matt Dennis play St James Infirmary.

 

For those who do not know Anglo International is a 3 CD set comprising of various styles that show the versatility the Anglo

The line up includes Roger Digby,Nigel Chippendale,Regardt de Bruin,Roger Edwards,John Watcham,Frank Edgley,Harry Scurfield,Will Duke,Mary MacNamara,Andrew Blakeny Edwards,Kate MacNamara,Mandy Murray,Zulu Squashbox players,Scan Tester,Bertram Levy,Zak van der Vyver,John Kirkpatrick,Chris Sherburn,Andy Turner,Niel Vallely,Felix Castro,Fred Kilroy,Jody Kruskal,Noel Hill,Tom Lawrence and myself.

 

It is in stock at Button Box USA, Frank Edgley Canada,and Roots Records Coventry UK many of the artists also stock them

 

Al :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.[/size]

 

The only concertina version I know is played and sung by Will Duke on the superb Anglo International CD set curated by our own Alan Day. If you don’t have the CD set, buy it, even if you play English or Duet; there’s much great music there.[/size]

 

 

Jim on Anglo International Harry Scurfield and Matt Dennis play St James Infirmary.

 

For those who do not know Anglo International is a 3 CD set comprising of various styles that show the versatility the Anglo

The line up includes Roger Digby,Nigel Chippendale,Regardt de Bruin,Roger Edwards,John Watcham,Frank Edgley,Harry Scurfield,Will Duke,Mary MacNamara,Andrew Blakeny Edwards,Kate MacNamara,Mandy Murray,Zulu Squashbox players,Scan Tester,Bertram Levy,Zak van der Vyver,John Kirkpatrick,Chris Sherburn,Andy Turner,Niel Vallely,Felix Castro,Fred Kilroy,Jody Kruskal,Noel Hill,Tom Lawrence and myself.

 

It is in stock at Button Box USA, Frank Edgley Canada,and Roots Records Coventry UK many of the artists also stock them

 

Al :)

 

Since it always gets mis-spelled, can I leap in and point out that Nigel's surname was actually Chippindale without benefit of more than the one 'e' at the end? ;-)

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.

 

The only concertina version I know is played and sung by Will Duke on the superb Anglo International CD set curated by our own Alan Day. If you don’t have the CD set, buy it, even if you play English or Duet; there’s much great music there.

 

 

Jim on Anglo International Harry Scurfield and Matt Dennis play St James Infirmary.

 

F

 

 

 

 

 

Of course; sorry for the misidentification. When I imported my (very early) copy of Anglo International into iTunes, it messed up song/tune titles. I should have known; it has "Limey Pete" played by someone other than Alan Day!

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Here's a first take, but after listening to Jody's version I realized I need to start over and rethink this.

 

The low variation, I think, doesn't work. I need to work on improv skills!

 

https://soundcloud.com/concertinist/stjames-besser1-mp3-mp3

 

Played on a Lachenal Anglo 30 button with mostly Dipper innards

Edited by Jim Besser

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Here's a first take, but after listening to Jody's version I realized I need to start over and rethink this.

 

The low variation, I think, doesn't work. I need to work on improv skills!

 

https://soundcloud.com/concertinist/stjames-besser1-mp3-mp3

 

Played on a Lachenal Anglo 30 button with mostly Dipper innards

Hi Jim,

 

Your playing had some cool stuff going on. Keep at it and let us know how you are doing.

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I'm finding this really hard!

 

It either sounds plodding, or completely messy (no comments about my previous recordings here please).

 

While I'm not really into jazz or blues, I do listen occasionally.... but this is the first time I've ever tried to play in that style. I might need to see if I can play drunk :blink:

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I attempted this tune a couple of summers back, and often felt the same way, Robert.

 

Alan

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I'm finding this really hard!

 

It either sounds plodding, or completely messy (no comments about my previous recordings here please).

 

While I'm not really into jazz or blues, I do listen occasionally.... but this is the first time I've ever tried to play in that style. I might need to see if I can play drunk :blink:

 

Hi Robert,

 

I believe it's mainly a matter of syncopation. The notation as provided by Jim B. is fine to start with, but in the case of Jazz/Blues things it is just (or even more?) as with all folk music: You'll have to listen and get the feel (I didn't try to let the abc file run through a MIDI player, but am sure it would sound horrible).

 

My own recording could - despite the obvious flaws regarding the application to the concertina - rely on decades of playing the blues (albeit rather in major keys) on the piano. I feel pretty much at home with this kind of music (just never have had a try with the concertina before).

 

Perhaps you might pick up your guitar (if you have one at hand and are able to strum along) and sing the tune. You might soon catch yourself at getting free of the exact note values. With some progress in doing so behind yourself you might then succeed in playing the tune on your EC as well.

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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As Wolf says it's definitely a piece you have to get the underlying pulse of, which Wolf's does very nicely. Have a listen to some of the original versions that Jim linked to right at the head of the thread for that loping swing.

 

Mind you I thought I'd done pretty well in my version of getting away from my strong rooting in English dance music, until someone told me it sounded like a tune for the Ouse Washes Molly Dancers. Don't get me wrong, the rest of the time I'd take sounding like the wonderful Ouse Washes as a compliment, but I did think I'd managed to get a bit more Mississippi delta and a bit less Norfolk Fens ...

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Hi Thomas, well executed in its own way, but pretty heavy and driven by alternating bass notes as for me; I recall my accordion or marching and jug bands... Duet and EC each in the territory of their own? And, as Rüdiger Asche has mentioned in the pop tune thread in general, miss the text - and what a helluva text it is... :ph34r:

 

Steve, very glad you liked my beat! I'm still working on a somewhat lighter and freer touch... And as to Lousiana swamp vs. Norfolk fens, the comparism made me smile, good sense of humour... However, you wouldn't let us judge on that, would you? I would like you to... :)

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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