Tunes on Tuesday – St. Thomas

Why this tune?

I’m writing this from St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. We heard a jazz concert here on one of our first visits, and weren’t surprised when the band closed the set with “St. Thomas,” named for another island in the VI. We associate the tune with Sonny Rollins, who recorded it first in 1957. I learned from KUVO Jazz that this was not the first recording of the tune by a jazz musician. Randy Weston recorded his version of this tune a year earlier with the title “Fire Down There”.

Dig this detail!

Back in DC and other places in the US, it’s more common for jazz bands to close the set with Kenny Dorham’s New York Theme or some other melody on “rhythm changes,” the chords of Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm.

I’d love to hear what jazz bands in other parts of the world play at the end of their sets. I wrote a closing theme for the DC Jazz Jam in Washington, DC, which I look forward to playing when we get back to live jam sessions.

Check it out!

Sonny Rollins: St. Thomas

Video summary of this week’s tune

Randy Weston: Fire Down There

Kenny Dorham: NY Theme

Oren Levine: 18th Street Theme

Published by Oren Levine

Jazz pianist and composer in Washington, DC. Also a digital product and technology professional working at a small DC nonprofit

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