Okay, I know I’ve already made clear how cool I think The Red Hot Jazz Archive is. But just for the record, as it were, I offer you a brief summation of what’s available there, “St. James Infirmary”-wise.
First, the site includes the version that Louis Armstrong recorded in Chicago on December 12, 1928. If for some reason you have never actually heard “St. James Infirmary,” I recommend starting with this recording. Go here, scroll down, click on the song title, and it will play in Real Audio.
Follow that same procedure (click through and then click on the song title to hear the song in Real Audio) to enjoy the following additional versions available via The Red Hot Jazz Archive:
George E. Lee and his Novelty Singing Orchestra recording, made November 6, 1929, in Kansas City.
Harlem Hot Chocolates recording, made March 1930 in New York City. Features vocals by none other than Irving Mills, basically in front of Duke Ellington’s band, with Ellington himself on piano.
Alphonso Trent and his Orchestra recording, made March 5, 1930, in Richmond, Indiana.
King Oliver’s Orchestra recording, made May 22, 1930, in New York City.
And finally, Armstrong again, in a recording made December 21, 1932, in Camden, New Jersey, as part of “Medley of Armstrong Hits, Part 2.”
I probably don’t need to say this, but of course The Red Hot Jazz Archive also has a wealth of amazing information and sound files that have nothing whatsoever to do with “St. James Infirmary.”
“The Red Hot Archive is a place to study and enjoy the music of these early ‘Jazzmen,’” the site’s introduction explains. “Due to recent advances in technology it is now possible to broadcast text, music and pictures around the world via the Internet. This site is an experiment in using this new multimedia technology.”
It’s a noble experiment, and a successful one. You should check it out.