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|In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
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contributions to Bill Fuller %Earlyjas, or
The Night Owls
On Sunday, March 28, from 2-5 pm, Ted Witt’s Night Owls will perform in
concert for Earlyjas members and guests at The British American Club.
The 10-piece Night Owls orchestra holds a one-of-a-kind status among Ohio
musical groups being the only band devoted exclusively to recreating the hot
dance music of the 1920’s and early 30’s.
Those of you familiar with New Yorker, Vince Giordono’s Nighthawks will
recognize the inspiration for the Night Owls who were formed in 1998, after Ted
Witt and co-founder, Rich Hamilton, heard the Nighthawks at a party honoring
trombonist/leader, Turk Murphy, in New York.
The Night Owls is a reading band playing the widely prevalent stock charts so
common to 10-piece bands of the era. The highly danceable music of this band
features such tunes as:
BABY FACE – (1926) – by Benny Davis and Harry Akst. This tune was
popularized by Eddie Cantor and later recorded by Jan Garber and His
Orchestara. It was revived in 1948 by the Art Mooney Orchestra and also used in
the 1949 Al Jolsen movie Jolsen Sings Again.
CHARLESTON – written in 1923 by stride pianist James P. Johnson for the show
Runnin’ Wild. It inspired a dance that characterized the jazz age for decades. Even
though preceded and followed by other “Charleston” numbers from other shows,
it was this one that caught on. In the show it was sung by Elizabeth Welch and
danced by a group of chorus boys known as the “Dancing Redcaps.”
DIG-A-DIG-A-DO – (1928) by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields. This tune was
introduced by singer Adelaide Hall in Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1928. It was also
recorded by Duke Ellington in 1928 and later by the Benny Goodman Quartet
under the title Opus ¾.
DAVENPORT BLUES – written by cornetist Leon Bismark “Bix” Beiderbecke and
introduced in 1925 by his band, the Rhythm Jugglers. Bix also wrote “In a Mist,”
“In the Dark,” and “Candlelight.”
STAMPEDE – (1926) by Fletcher Henderson. It was recorded in 1926 by Fletcher
Henderson’s Orchestra with an arrangement by Don Redmond. Rex Stewart,
Coleman Hawkins, and Joe Smith were the featured soloists.
SWAMP BLUES – written by Burke Bivens in 1927, this “novelty tune” was
recorded by both Red Nichols and Fletcher Henderson. Bivens, who also wrote
“Josephine” was the lead sax player for the Wayne King Orchestra for 29 years.
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