Fats Waller and Alex Hill wrote one of the most irresistibly encouraging songs I know, a sweet spiritual paean to optimism, KEEP A SONG IN YOUR SOUL. I thought it would be fitting to let you hear as many versions of it as I could find.
Ellington, with a friendly vocal by Chick Bullock (1931):
Fletcher Henderson, arrangement by Benny Carter (1930):
Red Nichols with Jack Teagarden and Benny Goodman:
Lou Gold and His Orchestra:
Now, for some of my favorite intersections — living hot musicians playing beautiful swing classics:
Marty Grosz and his Optimists:
Jeff Barnhart and friends at the 2013 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party:
Michael Hashim with Claudio Roditi:
Bohem Ragtime Jazz Band with Viktoria Vizin:
Howard Alden and Warren Vache:
Rebecca Kilgore with Hal Smith’s Rhythmakers, featuring Marc Caparone, Bobby Gordon, Chris Dawson:
Another version from Jeff Barnhart and a British band with Nick Ward:
And an earlier version from Marty Grosz and his Philosophers:
There is a wonderful 1931 recording of Bill Robinson, singing and tapping. Here is Bojangles as a marionette, invented and manipulated in the most extraordinary way by Bob Baker. Initially it might seem perverse, but I came to marvel at it. If you see this as demeaning, Robinson’s wife liked this and encouraged Baker to keep it in his show:
I was excited to see that so many versions are accessible to us, and perhaps I got carried away. But I love this song, its message that music can make everything right, and I love the ways that the music itself blossoms in so many contexts.
May your happiness increase!