HI-HO, THE DERRY-O!

A dell is a small, secluded valley, often with trees. Then there’s the children’s song, recorded almost two hundred years ago in Germany:

Those who wish to sing along are encouraged to do so. Those who wish to theorize are not.

Then, there’s the piece of music that ran through my thoughts this morning:

Johnny Hodges and his Orchestra, August 1, 1938: Johnny Hodges, alto and soprano saxophone; Cootie Williams, trumpet; Lawrence Brown, trombone; Harry Carney, baritone saxophone; Duke Ellington, piano; Billy Taylor, Sr., string bass; Sonny Greer, drums.

“You play your personality,” Roswell Rudd told me.

Jazz musicians of this caliber didn’t need sophisticated melodies or chord changes to make memorable — perhaps whimsical — music. And I wonder. Did someone [possibly Helen Oakley Dance] in the studio say, “You fellows can swing anything. Even nursery rhymes,” before everyone began to improvise variations on the theme?

Of course, there’s always the idea that the Rabbit would have been at home in the Dell, but I digress.

May your happiness increase!

One response to “HI-HO, THE DERRY-O!

  1. Gary Turetsky

    Thanks for this posting Michael. Was 1938 a year for big bands to swing nursery rhymes? I was reminded after listening to the Duke’s men to spin my copy of Mutiny in the Nursery with Jack and Charlie Teagarden from a few months later. Also this may be just me but I hear the beginnings of the Duke’s Bli-Blip in the opening of this recordinng. Appreciate your blog as always.

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