Medicine: Infirmary Blues

The music wafting out of the examination room and down the halls at New Orleans' Ochsner Medical Center last week sounded like an import of old-time Chicago jazz, played from the heart. It was. Francis ("Muggsy") Spanier, 58, was in the room, flat on his back, swathed in surgical drapes, holding up a borrowed cornet with his free right hand as he launched, predictably, into St. Louis Blues. Next came a more or less reverent When the Saints Go Marching In, and then a throbbing medley of old familiar blues.

Spanier's playing sounded as...

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