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!


  1. My O my these 2 chaps are swingin’ out unmercifully / Danny Coots’ beautiful brush work with match grip for “Harold In Texas” to gaze upon / Well now, what additionally prompted me to comment was, one doesn’t come across the name Coots that often, so I got on the Net to see what I could see. There was J. Fred “You Go To My Head” Coots with picture, bio and all, and a complete listing of his songs. Now do you suppose J. Fred’s song “Beautiful Lady In Blue” is one and the same as (A) Beautiful Lady In Blue, which drummer Danny Coots is swinging out on? Could it really be? Two Coots’s? Two Beautiful Ladies In Blue? Bird-dog that one… or is somebody pulling my leg? Hmmmm. mb

  2. I just learned that Danny is J. Fred’s nephew . . . so such brilliance is genetic for sure. And I think (I am guessing) that Fats recorded this song — I need to hear that if it is true!

  3. MS- It IS a small world… Although the “A” is not listed in the title on J. Fred’s website it IS the same song . What I learned… there is a You Tube video of a 1935 radio broadcast (Chevrolet) with Jan Peerce singing it, complete with the verse. The printed credits list J. Fred “Cooper” but the announcer has it right, J. Fred Coots, says he. So we bird-dogged that pretty darn good, Michael! Arf! Arf! Uncle Fred could write… nephew Danny can swing. Salute the Coots! mb

  4. Ha, I’m so glad you mentioned that. They really do lift your spirits!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s