West End Blues

West End Blues

"West End Blues"
Twelve-bar blues by Joe "King" Oliver
Released 1928 (1928)
Recorded June 11, 1928 (1928-06-11)
Genre Jazz
Label Brunswick
Composer Joe "King" Oliver

"West End Blues" is a multi-strain twelve-bar blues composition by Joe "King" Oliver. It is most commonly performed as an instrumental, although it has lyrics added by Clarence Williams.

King Oliver and his Dixie Syncopators made the first recording for Brunswick Records on June 11, 1928.[1] An early vocal version was waxed by Ethel Waters. Katherine Henderson with Clarence Williams and his Orchestra also recorded the track in 1928.[2]

The "West End" of the title refers to the westernmost point of Lake Pontchartrain in Orleans Parish, Louisiana. In its heyday, it was a thriving summer resort with live music, dance pavilions, seafood restaurants, and lake bathing.

Louis Armstrong's recording

"West End Blues"
Twelve-bar blues by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five
Released 1928 (1928)
Recorded June 28, 1928 (1928-06-28)
Genre Traditional jazz, blues[3]
Label Okeh
Composer Joe "King" Oliver

By far the best known recording of "West End Blues" is the 3-minute-plus, 78 RPM recording made by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five on 28 June 1928.

Armstrong plays trumpet (and does some scat singing) backed by a band that included the pianist Earl Hines. Armstrong played an eight-bar trumpet solo near the end of the record.

Other portions of this record also in high regard include the trumpet introduction by Armstrong that begins the song - this cadenza incorporates an almost syncopated opening – the wordless 'scat' singing chorus by Armstrong where he accompanies and varies a melody played by the clarinetist, and a piano solo by Hines. The number is closed by a metallic click by drummer Zutty Singleton.

This recording was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1979.

Jazz writer and historian William Russell has commented that other jazz trumpeters would be better off avoiding the too frequent imitations of Armstrong's introduction on the number; while the most virtuosic may have the technical ability to duplicate Armstrong's notes, they still suffer in comparison to Armstrong's feeling and originality.


  1. ^ Laird, Ross. Brunswick Records: A Discography of Recordings, 1916-1931, Greenwood Press (2001), p. 592. ISBN 0-313-30208-1
  2. ^ "Blues Influence". Facebook.com. Retrieved 2014-09-13. 
  3. ^