Tuesday, January 16, 2007

SJI In The News

"St. James Infirmary" is of course a song whose story turns on death, and in New Orleans one of the places one might here it was during funeral parades. So it's maybe not that much of a surprise that in my regular sweep of the news for mentions of the song, both recent occurences that I happened were in articles related to people who have recently passed away ... or gone on home, as some might say.

One notice brings the news that Wynton Marsalis will be taking the place of his recently departed friend Ed Bradley as the host of the radio show "Jazz At Lincoln Center." And on the February 22 installment of the program, he will evidently be doing double duty. The description of the episode:
Wynton Marsalis & Friends: Armstrong's Hot Fives -Select veterans from Jazz at Lincoln Center's Orchestra - Wycliffe Gordon, Victor Goines, Walter Blanding Jr. - recreate Louis Armstrong's revolutionary recordings from the 1920's. Marsalis' inspired soloing channels the greatness of his New Orlean's predecessor on "Cornet Chop Suey", "Fireworks", and "St. James Infirmary." 19-year-old pianist Jonathan Batiste astounds the audience with his traditional stride technique.

Meanwhile, those of you who follow the news in New Orleans are no doubt aware of the sad death of flimmaker Helen Hill. Apparently before coming to New Orleans, she lived for some time in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a newspaper there, The Chronicle Herald, reports on a memorial service for here there this past weekend.

In keeping with the spirit of the afternoon, many people were dressed in suitably unconventional outfits, which included funny hats, ballet tutus and funky footwear. Listeners heard saxophones, trumpets, banjos, drums, tambourines, a clarinet and kazoos....

True to form, the Halifax parade began as a sombre gathering, with musicians providing a plaintive rendition of the tune St. James Infirmary. By the time the crowd approached its destination several blocks later, an appropriate send-off for Ms. Hill was ushered in with a raucous version of When the Saints Go Marching In.