An iconic 20th century musician and entertainer (more)
Fats Waller, a vibrant entertainer and a master of the stride piano, was highly popular as both a songwriter and a performer. AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’, a revue of his songs, triggered a major revival of his music when it arrived on Broadway in 1978 and has become a staple of regional theatres across the country.
Fats and J.C. met in the 1920s and became great friends and collaborators. J.C. would often accompany Fats on all night jam sessions at Small’s Paradise and other clubs, always remaining quietly in the background while Fats took center stage.
In 1927 they wrote their first song together, I’M GOIN’ HUNTING, performed by Louis Armstrong and his band. Many others followed, including YACHT CLUB SWING, HOW YA BABY, WHAT’S YOUR NAME, HOLD MY HAND and THE SPIDER AND THE FLY (the last three of which appear in TRAV’LIN). Fats also recorded a number of J.C.’s songs written with others, most notably BELIEVE IT BELOVED, RHYTHM AND ROMANCE and YOU CAN”T DO WHAT MY LAST MAN DID.
Among the most prolific and highly regarded lyricists of his time (more)
Andy Razaf worked with many different composers, often with Fats Waller and J.C. and also with Eubie Blake and Don Redman, among others. His many classic lyrics include BLACK AND BLUE, AIN’T MISBEHAVIN and HONEYSUCKLE ROSE, to name a few.
Andy and J.C. wrote together frequently in the 1930s and had their own radio show for a time. Songs they wrote together include LOUSIIANA (used in TRAV’LIN), GUESS WHO’S IN TOWN and LONESOME SWALLOW. They also collaborated as a pair with Fats, most famously on THE JOINT IS JUMPIN’.
Their last collaboration, YANKEE DOODLE TAN, was written in the early 1940s as a salute to the African American members of the military and was included in the movie HIT PARADE OF 1943.
Great drummer and bandleader of the swing era (more)
Chick Webb was a standard bandleader at the Savoy Ballroom, sometimes competing with groups headed by stars such as Benny Goodman and Count Basie in the ballroom’s “Battles of the Bands.” In 1935, he began featuring a teen-age singer named Ella Fitzgerald in his performances.
Chick wrote the music to J.C.’s lyrics for SPINNIN’ THE WEB (used in TRAV’LIN). While only an occasional collaborator with J.C., he performed many of J.C.’s songs as part of his big band repertoire, most famously LOUSIANA.
Popular Harlem jazz band leader of the 1930s (more)
Claude Hopkins spent most of his career as a band leader and piano player. The 1930s featured long residencies at the Savoy and Roseland ballrooms and at the Cotton Club. Although more notable as a performer than as a composer, the songs he did write have a very syncopated and stride piano feel. Of his few tunes with J.C.’s lyrics, the finest example is VAMPIN A COED (used in TRAV’LIN).
Fletcher Henderson formed his own band in 1922, which became resident at Roseland. Members over the years included Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Doc Cheatham and Roy Eldridge as well as Don Redman and Benny Carter, the latter two also acting as arrangers. Fletcher later provided many arrangements for the Benny Goodman orchestra.
Fletcher wrote a few numbers with J.C., most notably the music for WHAT’S YOUR STORY, WHAT’S YOUR JIVE (used in TRAV’LIN).
George Whiting was a former vaudeville song and dance man who wrote popular song lyrics from the 1900s through the 1930s. He became a friend of J.C.’s and they wrote many songs together, including for the last two Texas Guinan revues and BELIEVE IT, BELOVED, J.C.’s favorite music he wrote for someone else’s lyrics.