0014 – Buddy Bolden’s Blues
Sheet Music - PDF Download, 1 1/2 pages, intermediate advanced level
MP3 is included with download
Cornetist Buddy Bolden is remembered as the first real jazzman, and though we have no recordings of him, we know that his influence on the development of New Orleans Jazz was enormous. This tune was in his band’s repertoire, and was supposedly written by his trombonist, Willy Cornish. It was somehow picked up by a young ragtime composer from Missouri named Theron C. Bennet, who used the tune as the opening strain of a rag called “St. Louis Tickle,” which was one of the hits of the 1904 world’s fair. Nearly 50 years after it was published, Dave Van Ronk arranged it for guitar, the first arrangement of a classic rag for solo guitar, so far as I know. And it was Dave’s version that I heard a local musician named Rick Richardson cover in a coffeehouse in Richmond, Virginia when I was a teenager, in around 1964. It made a huge impression on me because I had never seen anyone play a real fingerpicking solo before, and I figured out a simple way to play it shortly after that. But at some point I went back to the versions of “Buddy Bolden’s Blues” that Jelly Roll Morton recorded in the 1930’s (though of course he learned it when it was current in New Orleans), and modelled my version much more closely on how Morton harmonised it (especially in bar 7). My version can be heard on The Roots And Branches of American Music.