Having been reminded of the greatness of The Red Hot Jazz Archive the other day, I spent some time re-exploring it, and recalled this great version of “St. James Infirmary Blues.” (Click through and then click on the song title, and it plays in Real Audio.) Recorded in Chicago in November, 1929, it’s credited to Kansas City Frank and his Footwarmers. Frank is Frank Melrose, piano player, factory worker, reputed friend of Jelly Roll Morton. (Here’s more on Melrose from the Monrovia Sound Studio site.
The Footwarmers’ take on “St. James” is instrumental, and features an accordion, and a slide whistle. I first came upon this version a few years ago, when I was just starting to look into the song and figure out its history — before I realized what a morass I was getting into. Anyway, I’d forgotten how much I like this version. The accordion part is what makes it for me; it’s fabulous. Enjoy.