There was a time — let’s say 1936 — where the pop hits of the day were getting recorded regularly in small-band jazz versions.
The songs were often paper-thin and sounded as if they’d been written in half an hour in the pastoral fields of the Brill Building, but it didn’t matter.
Who recorded them? Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Tempo King, Red Allen, Red McKenzie, Bob Howard, Putney Dandridge, Bob Howard come to mind. The records were made for the jukebox market and jazz collectors treasure them for their good-time atmosphere and the hot playing.
I haven’t ever seen a jukebox stocked with new Vocalion and Decca 78s, and don’t expect to in this century. But I did find this YouTube video of pianist-singer Jeff Barnhart and drummer Danny Coots performing A BEAUTIFUL LADY IN BLUE at the 2010 West Coast Ragtime Festival (it’s nicely recorded by my yet-unmet pal Tom Warner) and it absolutely made my day, suggesting Fats and Slick Jones and a whole era that I thought I’d only hear on records. Good for stompin’, as Lips Page would say:
Did you get up this morning feeling gloomy? Growly? Overwhelmed by things to do? Might I suggest a consult with Doctors Barnhart and Coots: this will cure many of those ills that affect modern men and women . . . or your co-pay will be refunded. Cheerfully!