ANDY RAZAF (1895 - 1973)
Andreamenentania Paul Razafinkerierfo
Lyricist, Poet, Baseball Pitcher
Andy Razaf was the son of a Madagascar prince who married the daughter of the American consul to Madagascar. With her
father, purportedly the first black man in the diplomatic corps, Jennie fled to Washington, D.C. after the French invaded,
killed her husband, and annexed the country as a colony. Andy was born in the states with an almost 40-character name which
he shortened to Razaf. He sold one song in 1913 and left for Cleveland where he pitched in a black semipro baseball league.
He came to New York in 1921 where his reputation as a protest poet (reflected in the lyrics of “Black and Blue”) landed him jobs as a lyricist with Eubie Blake, Fats Waller, and Paul Denniker.
In 1929 alone he had several hits with Waller--“Honeysuckle Rose,” “Black and Blue (What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue),” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” The team also created “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now” (1932) and “The Joint is Jumpin’” (1940). Razaf’s “S’posin’” with Denniker and “Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” with Don Redman were also big successes. He scored Blackbirds of 1932 with Eubie Blake which produced “Memories of You” and “Lindy Hop.” Other collaborations produced “Stompin’ at the Savoy” (1936) and “In the Mood” (1939), and he wrote the words and music for “That’s What I Like About the South” (1942) which became Phil Harris’ signature song. He also came up with the lyrics for Blake’s
“My Handy Man,” a song filled with sexual double entendres, and the equally bawdy “If I Can’t Sell
It, I’ll Keep On Sitting On It” with music by Alexander Hill.
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com