Thursday, October 1, 2015

Caribbean Jazz Standards: My Little Suede Shoes and St. Thomas

My Little Suede Shoes is a Charlie Parker tune with a Latin flavor and samba groove, although Parker didn't actually write it.  According to Brian Priestly, author of Chasin' the Bird, My Little Suede shoes is a French Caribbean tune called "Mes Souliers De Daim" that Bird picked up in Paris.  Parker explored Latin, Mexican and Caribbean Afro-Cuban rhythms during the early 1950's.  My Little Suede Shoes has an extremely catchy rumba beat that would have fit right in on Guadeloupe or Martinique.
My Little Suede Shoes

St. Thomas is a tune said to have been "composed" by Sonny Rollins.  His mother was from the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean and Rollins remembered hearing his mother signing a calypso song when he was a child.  The Rollins composition St. Thomas is based on the song his mother would sing, perhaps originally known as "The Carnival" from the West Indies and/or the song "Fire Down There" from Jamaica.  So, Rollins' version is more of an interpretation of these earlier traditional melodies than a full-on composition.  St. Thomas remains the most popular and well known of Rollins' calypso themed tunes.


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