The hell with time-travel. Before you long to go back to 1937, remember lynching, polio, breadlines, dictatorships. Don’t touch that dial. But a short jaunt back into audible time, not heard before, cannot wound. This five-minute radio airshot from the SATURDAY NIGHT SWING CLUB (on the Columbia Broadcasting System) of July 15, 1937, is a delightful rebuke to those who feel “all the good stuff has been found and heard already.” Nay nay, indeed.
To me, and to many of you, this will be an astonishing rarity: few knew it existed. The earnest-comic-attempting-to-be-hep announcer (possibly chained to his script?) is Paul Douglas. The musicians are guitarist Teddy Bunn, scat-singing wizard Leo Watson, also playing drums, and pianist Bobby Henderson.
This is the only recording of Henderson in his prime; he was at one time the young Billie Holiday’s accompanist, and in 1932 he recorded some sides which were never released with Martha Raye and Lonnie Johnson — but he would have to wait until the middle Fifties to make recordings, three on the Vanguard label — one Verve side from a Newport Jazz Festival appearance in 1957 — then a decade later for Hank O’Neal, when Henderson had become ill.
Here he displays great swing mastery.
Teddy and Leo are deliciously unique: note Leo’s making “CBS” and “Columbia” part of his vocal, and Bunn is a complete rhythm CPR in himself. The fidelity is narrow but clear. Perhaps this is how it sounded on AM radio in mid-July 1937?
Blessings on the creators, and on the savers of their creativity.
May your happiness increase!