Joe Avery's Piece
Background and performance tips on
"Joe Avery's piece"
By mark braud
“Joe Avery’s Piece” is a song written by the eponymous trombonist that is popular at second line parades. The song is based on a simple 12-bar blues form and has a very singable melody. Before the melody starts, the trumpet plays a loud, high call to which the crowd responds, “Hey!” The band then proceeds to play the melody while second line parade festivities ensue.
A notable feature of this song, like most New Orleans second line songs, is that there are several sections that have become part of the song. There’s the plain and simple melody, followed by a series of riffs (short melodic patterns played by the horn section). The riffs often seemingly take on a life of their own, and the brass band players’ ability to quickly harmonize these riffs can make a short tune quickly come together on the spot as though it is a learned arrangement. These riffs may or may not continue as the “shout chorus” is played. Just like in a classic big band, there is usually a shout chorus near the end of a song where everyone is playing with greater volume and intensity than the beginning.
“Joe Avery’s Piece” has become simply known as “The Second Line.”
I recommend listening to the Tuxedo Jazz Band’s version on At Tradition Hall Vol. 111.
Notice the laid-back phrasing of Wendell Brunious’ trumpet playing; this is characteristic of the style of playing for second line dancers. Freddie Lonzo (trombone) and Don Suhor (clarinet) complement Brunious’ phrasing with freely played harmonic interjections that fall perfectly in line with the groove.