Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Virginians "Aunt Hagar's Blues"

Gordon Bowker in his Lowry biography Pursued By Furies states that The Virginians were one of Malc's early favourite jazz bands.

The Virginians were a satellite studio band of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra under the direction of Ross Gorman. Read more You can listen to another Lowry favourite "Aggravatin' Poppa" - the flipside of the above track on the Red Hot Jazz website.

The Virginians (Ross Gorman, reeds / director) — This small group of “hot” players from the Whiteman orchestra served as Victor’s house jazz band beginning in 1921 and used Whiteman-supplied arrangements. The band was conducted by Whiteman reedman Ross Gorman, best remembered today as the musician for whom Ferde Grofé scored the clarinet introduction to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Victor house conductor Edward King occasionally substituted as director beginning in October 1922, according to the Victor ledgers, primarily on those sessions at which the Virginians served as accompanists to Isabella Patricola and other singers. Read more about Paul Whiteman Bands

The song was written and recorded by W. C. Handy.

“Aunt Hagar” was originally conceived by Handy as a much slower, sadder dirge. He based it on a mournful musical motif he’d once heard sung by a washer woman as she hung clothes one cold night, singing, “yo’ clothes looks lonesome hangin’ on de line.”

Religious and biblical references are not unusual in his music. For instance, the biblical figure Hagar (an Egyptian) was servant to Sarah, wife of Abraham. Because Sarah was barren she gave Hagar to Abraham as concubine so that he could sire a child. In his autobiography Handy explained that, “negroes often spoke of themselves as Aunt Hagar’s children.”
Read more on Jazz Hot Big Step

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