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JazzTimes 10: Intoxicating Tracks About Alcohol

Songs to choose when breaking out the booze

  1. Louis Prima with Keely Smith: “One Mint Julep” (Breaking It Up!, Columbia, 1958 [originally recorded 1953])

Some will argue that Prima is adjacent to jazz, and “One Mint Julep” had been an R&B hit for the Clovers in 1952, the year before Prima recorded his version. (That said, it would later surface on Freddie Hubbard’s 1960 debut album.) But the trumpeter/singer was a native New Orleanian whose big band, on records like “One Mint Julep,” swung as hard as any of the era. The record is a hilarious blues “lament” that having a single mint julep with a woman in a tavern led to a shotgun wedding. (Let it not go unnoticed that Prima was, at the time, cheating on his wife with the band’s new singer, Keely Smith—and that he would quickly marry her later in 1953.) Although there are no solos, there are plenty of hip obbligati, and the ensemble is sharp as a tack.

Check the price of Breaking It Up! 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.