From the Record Shelves #191

Alligator Blues

78 rpm Parlophone R 2185

Today I listen to a 78 rpm record with material from a classic session. Between May 7th and 14th, 1927 Louis Armstrong recorded one masterpiece after another when his studio group had been augmented from five to seven members. Maybe this one is the least talked about of the eleven recordings by the Hot Seven, but it’s certainly not less good. I think that it should be rightly called Alligator Crawl as when its real composer Fats Waller recorded it, but here it has become a “blues”.

Partly responsible for that is Johnny Dodds, whose initial clarinet solo is a strong 12-bar blues statement.

Then Armstrong, in a playful mood, makes his own variations of the melody and continues with a solo after a bridge. Johnny St. Cyr, who was to record the tune again with Doc Cook’s Orchestra a month later, takes a nice guitar solo, speeding up the tempo a bit before the “tutti” finish.

Kid Ory was on tour with King Oliver during this period and was replaced by John Thomas on trombone. Thomas, as well as tuba player Pete Briggs, played with Armstrong live at the time. Johnny Dodds also brought in his brother Baby on drums.