What’s for dinner?
or, in another guise:
Notice the composer credits: drummer Jack Parker and trumpeter Joe Guy, who has gained deep posthumous fame for being married to Billie Holiday for a brief period.
But we’re here to have some music. Music about food. What could be better?
The YouTube algorithm has linked this performance to Ben Webster and Sonny Rollins, but such things are mere trifles. Some listeners may move to dismiss this as a mere novelty, looking forward to rhythm and blues performances of thin material. But if we can resist the urge to categorize and condescend, it’s audible that this little band swings more — vocally at the start — than many more famous ensembles do in their highest gear.
The song was first recorded in 1941 by Al Cooper’s Savoy Sultans — a recording I’ve not heard. This performance (one take only) is led by Hot Lips Page, whose delighted spirit is audible throughout: Lips, trumpet and vocal; Earl Bostic, Butch Hammond, alto saxophone; Don Byas, tenor saxophone; Clyde Hart, piano; Al Lucas, string bass; Jack Parker, drums: September 29, 1944.
Now for eight bars of name-dropping. Circa 1974, several friends and I were invited to visit Ruby Braff at his Riverdale apartment. When I’m invited to a new place, I often look at the bookshelves and record collection. Ruby had several dozen of the then new Chiaroscuro recording — live at the New School — of the quartet he and George Barnes led. Leaning at an angle to the lowest bookshelf was an unsleeved copy of FISH FOR SUPPER on the 78 pictured above.
I am sure that Ruby admired the sound of that little band, the frolicsome energy of Lips Page. Or perhaps he warmed to the poetry: “We ain’t got no menu / But our fish will send you,” worthy of Robert Frost at his best.
May your happiness increase!