Sunset Waltz is one of a handful of tunes recorded by members of the seminal African-American string band the Mississippi Sheiks under the name the Mississippi Mud Steppers. There are six known sides attributed to the group, and, curiously in an era of strict racial segregation, they were released in OKeh’s 45000 ‘Hillbilly’ series. Whether this was due to an unusual level of foresight or merely a clerical error is unknown.

The tune itself is wonderful, and unusual in many respects:

  • The 24-bar structure
  • The use of the parallel minor (Bb)
  • The shift from the IV chord (Eb) to the III7 (D)
  • The use of C minor in bar 21 as part of a ii V7 I progression rather than the standard ragtime II7 V7 I

Modern performers who play this tune often substitute Bb diminished for Bb minor.

Sunset Waltz

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