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JazzTimes 10: Intoxicating Tracks About Alcohol

Songs to choose when breaking out the booze

  1. Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five: “A Monday Date” (The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings, Sony Legacy, 2003 [originally recorded July 27, 1928])

The song itself has nothing to do with alcohol. The lyrics carry little weight: just a reminder not to forget a date the singer and his consort scheduled the week before, and a promise that it will be very cozy. In looking at the relationship between jazz and alcohol, however, it would be malpractice not to include Louis Armstrong’s Prohibition-era debut of “A Monday Date,” which became a standard despite its endorsement of bootleg liquor. Armstrong asks pianist Earl Hines to let him and the band join in his playing, then gets annoyed with Hines’ appraisal of the band tuning up as sounding “pretty good.” “I bet if you had a half a pint of Miz Searcy’s gin, you wouldn’t say that sound ‘pretty good!’” (For the record, there has never been any such brand of gin.) The band then comes together for a raucous, joyful performance of the kind that made for a party at the speakeasy, complete with solo delights from drummer Zutty Singleton, Hines, trombonist Fred Robinson, clarinetist Jimmy Strong, and Pops himself.

Check the price of The Complete Hot Five & Hot Seven Recordings on Amazon!

Originally Published

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.