Alexander's Ragtime Band - Dixieland Crackerjacks





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Published on May 20, 2008

Dixieland Crackerjacks


Recorded live on the Island of Schiermonnikoog.
Dixieland Crackerjacks playing Irving Berlin's : Alexander's Ragtime Band

"Alexander's Ragtime Band" is the name of a song by Irving Berlin. It was his first major hit, in 1911. There is some evidence, although inconclusive, that Irving Berlin borrowed the melody from a draft composition submitted by Scott Joplin that had been submitted to a publisher.[1]

"Alexander's Ragtime Band" is not itself an example of the ragtime musical idiom; apart from some mild syncopation, it has almost none of ragtime's characteristic features. Nonetheless, the lyrics clearly refer to the arrival of African-American musicians on the popular scene with their then-new idea of playing standard songs in a more exciting up-tempo style.

The first lines establish the African-American context:

Oh ma honey . . . ain't you goin' to the leaderman, the ragged meter man
References to "jazzing up" popular music include:

They can play a bugle call like you never heard before
So natural that you want to go to war
That's just the bestest band what am, honey lamb

If you care to hear the Swanee River played in ragtime
The new style included new ways of playing traditional instruments as well:

There's a fiddle with notes that screeches
Like a chicken
And the clarinet is a colored pet
This song was played on the decks of the Titanic by the ship's band, as the ship sank beneath the waters on April 15, 1912.

The song has been recorded by many artists, including Al Jolson, Billy Murray, Louis Armstrong, George Formby, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, and Ray Charles.

A 1938 film of the same name was loosely based on the song.

A version of the song set to a disco beat was recorded by Ethel Merman for her infamous Ethel Merman Disco Album in 1979.

The song was used in Tennessee politics by Lamar Alexander, a trained pianist, Governor of Tennessee and U.S. Senator, who performed the song for campaign events, including during his 1996 run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Michel Muller - trumpet
Slidin' Selena - trombone
Koos Greven - banjo
Lielian Tan - drums
Bert Brandsma - bass saxophone

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