Music Notes

Polka Dots And Moonbeams

In 2017 an album was released containing 17 versions of Jimmy Van Heusen’s and Johnny Burke’s “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” which was published in 1940 and immediately recorded by the bands of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller.our next tune –and there have been many more versions – the “Secondhand songs” website lists 279.

The story is that Dorsey at first turned down the song eventually recording it in February 1940 and it was to become a big hit with its’ vocal by Frank Sinatra.

However, the Glenn Miller band got in first with vocalist “Ray Eberle” in arecording made a month before the Dorsey version.


“Under The Moon”- was evidently a very popular song in 1927 with at least seven recorded versions in that year alone.

My favourite version was by the  lovely Annette Hanshaw with what you might regard as an all star band with Eddie Lang on guitar, Joe Venuti on violin Vic Berton on drums (and what sounds like tubular bells)– and the master of the Bass saxophone Adrian Rollini.



Wednesday Night Hop

Andy Kirk and His Clouds Of Joy recorded a tune in 1937 that could well have taken place under the moon for this is their “Wednesday Night Hop”. Andy Kirk took over Terrence Holder’s Dark Clouds Of Joy in 1928, renamed it Andy Kirk and his Dark Clouds Of Joy and then Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds Of Joy. When the regular pianist missed a recording session in 1929, John Williams, who was the saxophonist in the band, suggested to hire his wife Mary Lou Williams. Mary Lou Williams was the real star in the band. She was not only a great pianist but also arranger and composer for the band. A great portion of the credit, that the band was so popular and successful, belongs without doubt to her. From 1931 to 1942, Mary Lou Williams was a full time member of Andy Kirk’s Twelve Clouds Of Joy.

Thanks for that information from Christian Bossert who is based in Zurich and has a web page –Shuffle Projects – that is well worth a look


Someone To Watch Over Me

Artie Shaw was at the height of his powers with when he recorded one of my favourite Gershwin tunes “Someone To Watch Over Me”.

But not with an Artie Shaw big band but a small group consisting of Shaw on clarinet, Hank Jones on piano, Tal Farlow on guitar, Tommy Potter on bass, Joe Roland on vibes and Irv Kluger on drums.

Recorded in 1954, this one of the last recordings made by Artie Shaw before, at the age of 44, he hung up his clarinet for good.


The Man I Love


Billie Holiday released her version  Gershwin’s  the  Man I Love in 1940 as by Billie Holiday And Her Orchestra- an orchestra that was to all intents and purposes Count Basie’s band with Joe Sullivan taking  the piano stool in place of Basie.


Second Hand Love

Ten years earlier  The Famous Hokum Boys recorded a song about  a perhaps less satisfying aspect of love- as this is “Second hand Love”  .

Georgia Tom, vocal and piano and Scrapper Blackwell recorded on February 5th 1930 at The Gennett studios in Richmond Indiana in a session at which they put on wax no less than eight great examples of their “Hokum” music.






Hand In Hand

And even more hands now but in the guise of the delta blues. ThElmore James was one of the great slide guitar players, a style sometimes referred to as “bottleneck” guitar as some players did actually use the neck of a bottle to slide up and down the fretboard of the guitar. This is Elmore James. –I say Delta blues, in fact this recording was probably made in either Chicago or Culver City California. Nevertheless Elmore James was born and brought up near to the Mississippi Delta.

For sheer emotion and the depth of his guitar sound Elmore James is hard to beat.

In 1954 Elmore James  released  his “Hand In Hand”but possibly recorded two years earlier.



Flat Foot Floogie

And now from hands to feet

Slim Gaillard’s jive anthem “Flat Foot Floogie” reached a  nationwide audience when it was performed by the Benny Goodman band on their “Camel Caravan” radio show in 1938.

Fats Waller was probably already including the number in his repertoire when he came to England later in 1938 but it was while he was in London that he recorded his version.

The very enjoyable trombone solo is by George Chisolm who became very much a stalwart of the British jazz scene right up until the 1980s.

Fats Waller and His Continental Rhythm and “Flat Foot Floogie”.


Popity Pop

And we have not finished with Slim Gaillard as this is Slim Gaillard and His Orchestra with another apparently nonsensical number “Popity Pop”.

Popity Pop was recorded on December 29, 1945.

If the band sounds rather good to you it is because we hear Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet) – called John Berks on the disc label —Charlie Parker (alto saxophone)– Jack McVea (tenor saxophone) identified on the label as Jack Mack, Dodo Marmarosa (piano), Slim Gaillard (guitar), Tiny Brown (bass,) and Zutty Singleton (drums)- Slim Gaillard and Tiny Brown share the vocals.

Popity Pop –Motor Sickle



Cement Mixer

I thought while we were in the neighbourhood, why not another Slim Gaillard song? This is Gaillard’s “Cement Mixer” as recorded by the Jimmie Lunceford band in 1946.

“Cement Mixer –Putti putti”



Perhaps in our next song is somewhat the same tradition as those Slim Gaillard tunes . —In 1949 Wardell Gray recorded a Saxophone solo that he called “Twisted”.

In 1952 singer Annie Ross wrote and recorded a set of tongue twisting lyrics to the intricate solo- and in 1960 she re-recorded the number taking the lead with the vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.


Mad Dogs and Englishmen

We now hear about a disparate group who some people might think also ought to be Psycho-analysed.

“Mad Dogs And Englishmen”.

Noel Coward says he wrote the song while driving through what was then French Indo-China in 1931.

This is Noel Coward with the Ray Noble Orchestra recorded in 1932.

“Mad Dogs And Englishmen”

The Free And Easy

, Tom Clines and His Music in 1930 with a song that was written for silent film comic Buster Keaton –“The Free And Easy”.

The recording features Adrian Rollini on bass saxophone who we heard earlier with Annette Hanshaw.

Jack Carney takes the vocal— “Free And Easy”.