From the Record Shelves #208

Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man

LP VJM Records VLP 27

I have a memory about one of the tunes on this LP. In the beginning of the record company Stomp Off, we did a couple of LP albums for them with my band Scaniazz. Now, when it was time for a new one, their primus motor Bob Erdos called me up with a request that we include one of his favorite numbers, Spanish Mama. It was a tough one for us, with a lot of arranged strains and an interlude to finish in the somewhat unusual key of d-flat. But we did it. I transcribed and adopted the Doc Cook arrangement, and Bob’s reaction was heartwarming “it knocked me out!.

But honestly, I prefer some other tunes on this Cook LP; for example, the chosen one that is the first one. There was a strong New Orleans connection in Doc Cook’s Chicago-based Dreamland Orchestra, which included cornet player Freddie Keppard who dominates here with his breaks, strong ensemble playing, and his “ride-out” in the last chorus. Other New Orleans men are Jimmie Noone who plays the theme with breaks on the clarinet, Johnny St. Cyr on the banjo, and Andrew Hilaire behind the drums.

“Hot Tamale” men were street vendors in New Orleans with white carriages from which they sold a sort of Mexican meat loaf with mashed meat inside, and hot spices.

Doc Cook was a real doctor in music, having gained the title at the Chicago College of Music in 1926.