About this Recording
8.120574 - CARMICHAEL, Hoagy: Mr Music Master (1928-1947)

“Mr. Music Master” Original Recordings 1928-1947

Notwithstanding his popular – and perhaps overriding– image as the café pianist in the Bogart classic To Have And Have Not (Warner, 1945) and the drawling, laconic crooning-star caricature of his later years, Hoagy Carmichael played a major role in the development of early 20th century jazz and its dissemination to a wider audience.

One of the most innovative pianist-songwriters in popular music history, Hoagy was born Howard Hoagland Carmichael, the eldest of three siblings, in Bloomington, Indiana, on 22nd November, 1899. His mother Lida, a noted pianist in the local silent cinema, encouraged the young Hoagy’s interest in the piano which, from an early age revolved mainly around ragtime and its derivative … jazz. (As Indiana was at that time the hub of the popular music-publishing concerns which had sprung up during the 1890s, he now seems to have been ideally placed for exposure to the right elements).

Hoagy’s undoubted talent for improvisation was brought to the fore by the black ragtime pianist Reggie Duval, whom he first met shortly after his family moved to Indianapolis, in 1916, and as a teenager he gained his first professional experience in the brothels and speakeasies of that city before returning in 1919 to Bloomington to complete his high-school studies and, the following year, enrolling as a law student at Indiana University. Already a skilled improviser and a prolific songwriter, Hoagy there formed the noted jazz band which would remain a regular feature of campus dances until his graduation in 1926 and while still an Indiana undergraduate, in 1922, he met his greatest musical soul-mate in Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931). Until Bix’s premature death the two men remained the best of friends (legend has it that Hoagy made Bix famous by hiring the legendary jazz cornet virtuoso and his Wolverines to play ten consecutive weekend gigs at the University), but their reciprocal musical admiration and influence proved even more far-reaching: the tunes of “Skylark” and “Stardust” are believed to have been inspired by Bix’s playing.

In 1923 Hoagy wrote the piano solo “Freewheelin’” which was later revamped as “Riverboat Shuffle” and recorded by the Wolverines in Richmond, Indiana, on 6th May, 1924. The Wolverines’ pianist, Dick Voynow, succeeded in placing this number with the New York based Irving Mills music publishing company and, on the strength of its success, Mills offered Hoagy a job as an arranger and song-plugger. Hoagy, however, was keen at that stage to pursue a career at law, and rejecting the offer accepted a position as a clerk in West Palm Beach instead. But when, in 1926, Mills published “Washboard Blues”, this development put Carmichael back on track as a composer and as a piano soloist and the die was cast. He made his own first recording of the song in 1925 with the Curtis Hitch Band and it was also a success for Red Nichols (1926; a US No.13 hit in 1927) and Paul Whiteman (1927; with Hoagy as piano soloist and vocalist; a US No. 17 in 1928).

During 1927 Hoagy wrote “Barnyard Shuffle”, a piece which, re-christened “Stardust”, was first recorded – without vocal – on October 31 of that year, by the composer himself and his Collegians Band (a rather amorphous jazz ensemble, with varying personnel, they are also heard here in a swinging version of Shelton Brooks’ 1916 “Walkin’ The Dog”. In 1928 Don Redman featured the still wordless “Stardust” and, in January 1929, Mills published it in New York as a piano solo. At last Mitchell Parish (born 1900) was commissioned by Mills to add the now universally-known lyrics and, with more than 1,300 recorded versions to date, one of the world’s most enduring popular song standards was born. Encouraged by the success of this song Hoagy moved to New York where he remained until 1936. Through Bix’s contacts he assembled a host of the finest white jazz musicians which at one time or another featured Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Ed Lang, Joe Venuti, Jack Teagarden, Frankie Trumbauer and others for the first recordings of such hits as “Rockin’ Chair”, “Lazy River” and “Georgia On My Mind” – this last a classic jazz-standard which was the subject of a 1960s Ray Charles hit-revival, was first inspired by Trumbauer and was given lyrics by Hoagy’s college-mate Stuart Gorrell (1902-1963).

In 1931 three changes occurred in Hoagy’s world which changed his attitudes to music and to life: Bix’s sudden death, Hoagy’s invitation to join the American music publishers’ association ASCAP (effectively a passport to any up-and-coming songwriter) and the upturn in the movie industry (the only American industry really booming at that time). With the advent of the film-musical and the Swing Era he became less jazz-orientated and more commercially aware both as a writer and as a performer. His songs were regular features

with the great black jazz-dance orchestras, particularly Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson and, before 1935, he had himself cut over 50 sides for the Victor company, including “Sing It Way Down Low”, “Snowball”, the lyrical “One Morning In May” and “Lazybones” (originally a 1933 smash hit for the Mills Brothers, Hoagy claimed he wrote this best-selling song with lyricist Johnny Mercer (1909-1976) in just 20 minutes!).

By 1936 Carmichael had arrived in Hollywood (that same year, coincidentally also the year of his marriage, his song “Little Old Lady” received its first airing on Broadway in the musical The Show Is On) and in 1937 he was hired by Paramount as a staff songwriter. There, he began his long and fruitful association with the great New York-born lyricist and songwriter Frank Loesser (1910-1969) – their early collaborations including “Small Fry” (a hit for both Crosby and Mercer), “Heart And Soul” (a success for Connee Boswell) and “Two Sleepy People” (for Bob Hope and Shirley Ross).

With his reputation as a Hollywood songwriter still growing, Mr. Music Maker Carmichael continued his links with New York’s Tin Pan Alley. In the early 1940s, after the US entry into World War 2, he played his own special part in the war-effort by giving “the world something to hum” (or even to whistle) with such tunes as “Baltimore Oriole”, “Don’t Forget To Say “No””, “Baby, Old Man Harlem”, “Billy-A-Dick” and “Doctor”, “Lawyer, Indian”, Chief (the last two heard here in scarce alternative versions recorded for the American Recording Artists label).

All of his recordings of the pre-1950 period achieved varying degrees of success: the ironic “Hong Kong Blues” reached No.6 in this 1945 recording, “Ol’ Buttermilk Sky” (a collaboration with English lyric-writer Jack Brooks which earned an Oscar nomination when Hoagy himself featured it in the Universal western Canyon Passage, this was a December 1946 No.2), whereas his only No.1 (ironically not actually a Carmichael composition) came that same year with the sadistically droll “Huggin’ An’ Chalkin’”. Hoagy Carmichael died in Palm Springs, California, on December 28, 1981.

Ensemble Personnel

Tracks 1, 10, 16, 21: Art Bernstein, bass; Spike Jones, percussion
Track 2: HOAGY CARMICHAEL’S COLLEGIANS: Unknown personnel directed by Hoagy Carmichael
Track 3: HOAGY CARMICHAEL & HIS ORCHESTRA: Bix Beiderbecke, cornet; Ray Lodwig, trumpet; Boyce Cullen, Jack Teagarden, trombones; Jimmy Dorsey, clarinet; Arnold Brilhart, alto sax; Bud Freeman, tenor sax; Min Leibrook, baritone sax; Joe Venuti, violin; Irving Brodsky, piano; Chauncey Moorhouse, vibes; Gene Krupa, drums
Tracks 5, 6: HOAGY CARMICHAEL & HIS ORCHESTRA: Sid Peltyn, trumpet; other personnel unknown
Track 7: PERRY BOTKIN & HIS ORCHESTRA: Perry Botkin, guitar; Manny Klein, trumpet; Abe Lincoln, trombone; Jack Mayhew, clarinet; Maurice Freedman, tenor sax; Charlie Le Vere, piano; Jim Taft, bass; Spike Jones, drums
Tracks 8, 9: ORCHESTRA: Unknown personnel conducted by Billy May
Tracks 4, 11, 13: ORCHESTRA: Unknown personnel directed either by Billy May or Lou Bring
Track 12: BILLY MAY & HIS ORCHESTRA: Billy May, trumpet; other personnel unknown
Track 17: LOU BRING & HIS ORCHESTRA: Bob Guy, Van Rasey, Bruce Hudson, trumpets; Si Zentner, Ed Kuczborski, trombones; Jack Mayhew, Arthur ‘Skeets’ Herfurt, alto sax; Dick Eccles, Morty Freedman, tenor sax; Buddy Cole, piano; Perry Botkin, guitar; Art Shapiro, bass; Johnny St Cyr, drums
Tracks 18, 19: ORCHESTRA: Unknown personnel directed by Buddy Cole, piano
Track 20: The Chickadees and VIC SCHOEN & HIS ORCHESTRA: personnel unknown

1. THE OLD MUSIC MASTER (Carmichael–Johnny Mercer)
with Art Bernstein, bass, and Spike Jones, percussion
(Decca DLA 2963-A) Recorded 27th March, 1942, Los Angeles 2:22

2. WALKIN’ THE DOG (Shelton Brooks)
Hoagy Carmichael’s Collegians
(Genet 13724) Recorded 5th May, 1928, Richmond, Indiana 2:38

3. GEORGIA ON MY MIND (Carmichael–Stuart Gorrell)
Hoagy Carmichael & His Orchestra
(Victor BVE 63653) Recorded 15th September, 1930, New York 3:15

4. AM I BLUE? (Harry Akst–Grand Clarke)
Orchestra directed either by Billy May or Lou Bring; The Chickadees, vocal
(American Recording Artists ARA 1081) Recorded c.1945, Los Angeles 2:29

5. THANKSGIVIN’ (Carmichael–Johnny Mercer)
Hoagy Carmichael & His Orchestra; Dick Robertson, vocal
(Victor BS 73354) Recorded 1st September, 1932, New York 3:14

6. SING IT WAY DOWN LOW (Carmichael–Trent)
Hoagy Carmichael & His Orchestra
(Victor BS 73353-2) Recorded 1st September, 1932, New York 2:48

7. HONG KONG BLUES (Carmichael)
with Perry Botkin, guitar, & His Orchestra
(Brunswick LA 1731-A) Recorded 14th October, 1938, Los Angeles 2:57

with orchestra conducted by Billy May
(Decca WL 4431) Recorded 21st May, 1947, Los Angeles 2:20

9. CASANOVA CRICKET (Carmichael–Markes–Charles)
with orchestra conducted by Billy May
(Decca WL 4430) Recorded 21st May, 1947, Los Angeles 2:32

10. OLD MAN HARLEM (Carmichael–Rudy Vallee)
with Art Bernstein, bass, and Spike Jones, percussion
(Decca DLA 2964-A) Recorded 27th March, 1942, Los Angeles 2:39

11. BILLY-A-DICK (Carmichael–Paul Francis Webster)
Orchestra directed either by Billy May or Lou Bring; The Chickadees, vocal
(American Recording Artists ARA 1008-3B) Recorded c. 1945, Los Angeles 2:37

12. DOCTOR, LAWYER, INDIAN, CHIEF (Carmichael–Paul Francis Webster)
with Billy May (trumpet) & His Orchestra
(American Recording Artists ARA 1099-4A) Recorded 23rd October, 1945, Los Angeles 3:01

13. I CAN’T GET STARTED (Vernon Duke–Ira Gershwin)
Orchestra directed either by Billy May or Lou Bring
(American Recording Artists ARA 1191-1B) Recorded c. 1946, Los Angeles 2:56

14. TALKING IS A WOMAN (Carl Sigman–Bob Russell)
(Decca L 4321) Recorded 19th August, 1946, Los Angeles 2:34

15. MEMPHIS IN JUNE (Carmichael–Paul Francis Webster)
With Billy May (trumpet) & His Orchestra
(Decca L 4669) Recorded 16th December, 1947, Los Angeles 2:59

16. DON’T FORGET TO SAY “NO”, BABY (Carmichael–Cee Pee Johnson–Lou Victor)
with Art Bernstein, bass, and Spike Jones, percussion
(Decca DLA 2983-B) Recorded 11th May, 1942, Los Angeles 2:35

17. OL’ BUTTERMILK SKY (Carmichael–Jack Brooks)
with Lou Bring & His Orchestra
(Decca L 4322) Recorded 7th November, 1946, Los Angeles 2:16

18. RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE (Carmichael–Dick Voynow–Irving Mills–Mitchell Parish)
with orchestra directed by Buddy Cole, piano
(Decca WL 4352) Recorded 11th February, 1947, Los Angeles 2:16

19. ROCKIN’ CHAIR (Carmichael)
with orchestra directed by Buddy Cole, piano
(Decca WL 4353) Recorded 11th February, 1947, Los Angeles 2:52

20. HUGGIN’ AND CHALKIN’ (Hayes–Kermit Goell)
with The Chickadees and Vic Schoen & His Orchestra
(Decca WL 4267) Recorded 19th August, 1946, Los Angeles 2:38

21. STARDUST (Carmichael–Mitchell Parish)
with Art Bernstein, bass, and Spike Jones, percussion
(Decca DLA 2982-A) Recorded 11th May, 1942, Los Angeles 2:29
Hoagy Carmichael, piano, celeste, vocal (except track 5), whistling.

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