Contrary to popular myth, Greensleeves was not written by Henry VIII. It was actually composed by the person who seems to have written all the best tunes, Trad. Here’s my favourite version, in a jazz style that’s very far from “Trad”, by a superb band led by John Coltrane, as found on the brilliant album Africa/Brass recorded in 1961.

ps. I think it was the pianist McCoy Tyner who wrote the arrangement for this piece, but I’m not 100% certain of that.

2 Responses to “Greensleeves”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Peter: As you know I’m a stick-in-the-mud regarding jazz, not enjoying the idiom beyond the Big Band sound, but I’m wondering to what extent you are the same only 20 years further on. Do you like what is going on today in jazz? Just curious.

  2. telescoper Says:


    It’s difficult to answer that because I don’t get to much live jazz these days. When I lived in London I used to go regularly to Ronnie Scotts, the Jazz Cafe, etc and keep up that way with what was going on. They always had a mixture of up-and-coming artists as well as established legends. There aren’t really many venues outside London of that quality, so I retreated into the comfort zone of my CD collection which, it’s true, is dominated by Jazz of the 50s and 60s. I do also have a lot of older music (20s-30s) which I still enjoy, as well as classical and opera.

    One of the sad things is that so many of the great musicians are no longer with us. There are no doubt some excellent younger musicians, but their names are less familiar to me. I know I should make more of any effort to keep in touch with the modern scene, but it’s hard to find the time. If I lived in London it would probably be different, although there probably are at least some modern bands I wouldn’t like!


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