You don’t have to be deeply philosophical to feel that the universe is stranger than any surrealism our minds can invent; you have only to be browsing eBay with slightly heightened attentiveness.  Witness this combination of objects.

One is the sheet music for Mildred Bailey’s theme song — a cover I’d never seen before:

ROCKIN' CHAIR MildredThat would have been sufficient pleasure for one evening.  But, right below it, was this object, also for sale — another Mildred cover I’d never seen, more than a decade later:

ROCKIN' 2 MildredI find Mildred an entrancing singer, and am always saddened that she didn’t live longer.  Here’s her first recording of ROCKIN’ CHAIR — with a small group under Paul Whiteman’s name, on which Red Norvo is happily audible:

And the more famous 1937 recording, bittersweet and understated, with an introduction by Stew Pletcher and an Eddie Sauter arrangement:

A slower 1941 version with the Delta Rhythm Boys:

A duet with Teddy Wilson from November 1943 for V-Disc:

Her concert performance — from the Esquire All-American Jazz concert of January 1944, with accompaniment by Teddy Wilson, Red Norvo, Jack Teagarden:

Finally, a 1948 broadcast, new to me — even more stately:

I would gently urge those listeners and musicians who have taken little notice of Mildred to listen carefully to her subtle, often melancholy variations on a theme she must have sung a thousand times.

She has much to tell us about quietly and honestly expressing deep feeling.

May your happiness increase! 


8 responses to “MILDRED BAILEY: SHE ROCKS.

  1. Since the beloved singers of the ’30s, were my mother’s idols, I kind of grew up with the same ones,,This is what I heard, this is what I learned, and this is what I loved,,Like mother like daughter. Thank you dear NM,,This was a treat for me.

  2. thank you michael and keep sharing. you must have your own museum. also it has been nice reliving a night at mezzrows-ehud. I love my new hangout.

  3. DDn "Zoot" Conner

    Great idea! Mildred and her evolution on ROCKIN CHAIR.I was brought up listening to female jazz singers and she was second on what became my sad-glad list (Billie was first).Mildred was great and your examples showed her versatility, always putting a new wrinkle into each performance.Thank’s,Michael.

  4. Great post! I’ve been a Mildred fan for years but had never heard those last two renditions. All jazz singers can trace their influences back to her.

  5. Great stuff, Michael! I’ve been a Mildred Bailey fan since hearing a cut on my dad’s ’50’s era 10″ RCA Victor Encyclopedia of Jazz series of LP’s (still have ’em.) “Georgia on My Mind”, I think, with the Dorsey Brothers backing. She seemed to have an affinity for Hoagy Carmichael. I have sheet music for “Lazy Bones” with the same image of Mildred as the “Rocking Chair” cover you noticed and others I saw whilst perusing e-bay after reading your post, I noticed a Crosby movie sheet for “Small Fry” and checked the back cover (which sometimes is as interesting as the front cover). Lo and behold, there’s Mildred, along with Adrian Rollini, Hal Kemp, Bing and others. She remains a much overlooked & underappreciated singer.
    Speaking of the back covers, there was also a 1929 copy of “Star Dust” published by the ubiquitous Mr. Mills. Checking the back cover, there listed is the Duke Ellington “Rhythmoods” folio from your other post along with another folio of Duke Ellington’s “Streamlined” (simplified?) piano solos!
    Thanks for helping my happiness increase!

  6. Mildred is on par with Ethel Waters and Bing! One of the all time great sincere and truly talented vocal stylists.

  7. I forgot to mention a great photo by Gjon Mili of Mildred w/Louis, Big Tea & Teddy Wilson from the 1945 Esquire Concert in the 80’s Time-Life Giants of Jazz Jack Teagarden booklet. Looks like she’s having a great time! Check it out there (if you have it) or on-line. As Red Allen would say, “NICE!”

  8. She was a wonder.

    This one is sheer perfection, done later in her life, some of her vocal abilities eroded, the feeling incandescent and deeply moving, the minimalist orchestration perfect:

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