Friday, June 18, 2010

213/365 Hot Humid Music from My Hometown

I will be forever grateful for a childhood spent in the hot sultry French Quarter of New Orleans.

It means I can handle hot, humid weather (albeit with age I am much less comfortable in it), and I know the perfect music to accompany it.

This is Mr. Sidney Bechet, and the song is Blue Horizon. It is possibly the most exquisite composition ever performed on any clarinet, at any point in history, by anyone.

And this is the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, featuring Sweet Emma (I'm Alone Because I Love You) recorded in the mid-1960's. I heard this performed maybe a thousand times as a child, sitting in the floor or curled up in the corner of Preservation Hall, watching Sweet Emma Barrett, the Humphrey brothers, Sidney Bechet or Polo Barnes carry on with traditional New Orleans jazz. Every single time I hear this song, it brings tears to my eyes.

Of course, occasionally New Orlean's favorite son came home to visit. It became a tradition to go to any jazz funeral Louis Armstrong played at. This is one of the few live recordings of Mack the Knife from 1956, when I was just a year old.

La vie en rose makes me think of walking down Bourbon Street at 4 am, when all the crowds of tourists have gone home and the cobblestones are wet. Even at that hour, a few doors are still open, and a few notes drift on the shimmering humid air.

This is where I should insert a clip of Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans, 'cause now they're all making me cry.

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