I admit that it is hardly a promising title. 

But I just stumbled upon this clip — the only video I know of Leo Watson, Teddy Bunn, and two other musicians who form the Spirits of Rhythm.  And Leo Watson scats!  The bad news is that the YouTube clip is moderately out of synch, so it takes an optimistic effort to get beyond the lapse between what Watson mouths and what we hear — or it could simply be that he is miming to a prerecorded track. 

The performance — a sublimely forgettable novelty number — comes from a forgotten 1941 Columbia Pictures college musical, SWEETHEART OF THE CAMPUS, starring Ruby Keeler in her final major screen appearance, alongside Harriet Hilliard and Ozzie Nelson.  The film was directed by Edward Dmytryk, whose reputation surely doesn’t rest on this.

But I thought I would never see film or television footage of Leo Watson.  Now if some film archivist will uncover more of James P. Johnson (besides THE EMPEROR JONES and ST. LOUIS BLUES, where he is heard but not seen) and some Lee Wiley and Mildred Bailey, I’ll be content.

And for the scholar-readers out there: the other tipple player seems to be genuinely playing, but I wonder about that bassist.  He doesn’t look like Wellman Braud to me!

5 responses to ““TOM-TOM, THE ELEVATOR BOY”

  1. Pingback: “TOM-TOM, THE ELEVATOR BOY”

  2. never thought I would live long enough to see this.

    So where are those legendary recordings of the Louis-Teddy Bunn 1938 duets I dream about?
    Someone please ask Ricky Riccardi.

    Proof positive that there was heavy cannabination occurring in Harlem in those years.

  3. Thanks Michael, I was unaware of this film clip. Watson is a favorite of mine. Anyone familiar with Slim Gaillard’s OPERA IN VOUT (with bassist Bam Brown), will recognize Watson’s influence.

    Dazz MacSkivven Vouso Rooney!

  4. Супер! Все очень понятно и грамотно, и в то же время без умствований и самолюбования, и на доступном языке. Редкий случай когда человек делится актуальной и интересной инфой. Спасибо автору!

  5. The chords for the verse are:

    | F F7 | Dm7 C7 | F F7 | Dm7 C7 | F F/D# | Dm7b5 C#7 | F Dm7 | C7 F

    I think the chorus is a combination of Dm7 and Gmaj with a 2-5-1 at the end, but if anyone else know better, please let me know!!!

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