MUSIC CLIP - OSCAR PETERSON, “MOONGLOW”
Welcome to Afterglow, [a show of vocal jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook], I’m your host, Mark Chilla.
I hope you’re in touch with your inner child, because this week on the show, we’re feeling juvenile. I’ll be looking this hour at music for children. Coming up, we’ll hear some swinging adaptations of nursery rhymes by Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra. We’ll hear some songs written about kids by Tony Bennett and others. Plus, we’ll hear some fun novelty numbers that will surely appeal to kids, sung by Blossom Dearie, June Christy, and more.
It’s The Great American Children’s Songbook, coming up next on Afterglow
MUSIC - KING COLE TRIO, "PATTY CAKE, PATTY CAKE"
MUSIC - KING COLE TRIO, "THREE BLIND MICE"
Nat King Cole and the King Cole Trio in 1938 with two nursery rhymes: first, we heard “Patty Cake, Patty Cake,” an arrangement by Fats Waller, followed by “Three Blind Mice.”
MUSIC CLIP - COUNT BASIE AND HIS ORCHESTRA, "STOP BEATIN' AROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH"
Mark Chilla here on Afterglow. On this show, we’re looking at kids' songs from the Great American Songbook. Coming up this hour, we’ll hear a few jazz standards aimed at kids, a couple of nonsense songs perfect for kids, and some other kid-friendly tunes.
But first up, I want to take a look at one particular phenomenon: jazz and pop artists performing nursery rhymes. It was actually a little more common than you may think, and it likely all started with Ella Fitzgerald. Now, jazz and swing artists had been performing traditional tunes for a while: “Loch Lomond” was a popular one among swing artists like Benny Goodman and Maxine Sullivan, for instance.
But in 1938, Ella Fitzgerald made the traditional children’s nursery rhyme swing with her version of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”
MUSIC CLIP - CHICK WEBB & HIS ORCHESTRA, FEAT. ELLA FITZGERALD, "A-TISKET, A-TASKET"
The melody, adapted by songwriter Van Alexander, was borrowed mostly from the nursery rhyme (if you don’t know “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” you may also recognize it as the melody for “Ring Around The Rosie” or “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring.” The lyrics are also borrowed from the original nursery rhyme, however they were adapted and expanded by Fitzgerald herself.
“A-Tisket, A-Tasket” became a number one record for Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb’s Orchestra in 1938, skyrocketing her to fame, and also establishing the nursery rhyme as fair game for jazz interpretations.
Let’s hear a few other nursery rhyme adaptations by Ella herself. We’ll begin with a 1957 version she made of her 1938 hit, now infused with an infectious Latin beat. This is Ella Fitzgerald in 1957 with “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - ELLA FITZGERALD, "A-TISKET, A-TASKET"
MUSIC - ELLA FITZGERALD, "THE MUFFIN MAN"
MUSIC - ELLA FITZGERALD, "OLD MOTHER HUBBARD"
Three nursery rhymes from the Queen of Nursery Rhymes herself, Ella Fitzgerald. Just now, a jazz adaptation of “Old Mother Hubbard,” written by Duke Ellington and Chester Wallace, and recorded there for Decca Records in 1949. Before that, Ella in 1941 with a jazz adaptation of “The Muffin Man.” And starting that set, Ella in 1957 with “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” a Latin-ized version of her hit 1938 song.
Ella Fitzgerald’s 1938 recording of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” really kicked off the nursery rhyme craze in jazz, and after her, many other artists recorded jazz and swing versions of songs meant for kids. One of the first was Nat King Cole and his King Cole Trio—in fact, they started recording jazz adaptations of nursery rhymes for radio transcription in 1938, just a few months after “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” hit it big.
MUSIC CLIP - KING COLE TRIO, "MUTINY IN THE NURSERY"
The trio kept recording nursery rhymes well into the 1940s, after they were signed to Capitol Records. I’ll start this next set with a medley of nursery rhymes from the trio, including “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” “London Bridge,” “In And Out The Window,” and “Pop Goes The Weasel.”
This is Nat King Cole and his King Cole Trio in 1947 with a nursery rhyme medley, on Afterglow.
MUSIC - NAT KING COLE, "NURSEY RHYME MEDLEY"
MUSIC - LOUIS ARMSTRONG, "WHEN THE RED, RED ROBIN COMES BOB, BOB, BOBBIN' ALONG"
MUSIC - FRANK SINATRA, "OL' MACDONALD"
Several nursery rhymes, performed by jazz and pop artists. Just now, we heard Frank Sinatra in 1960 with his swinging version of “Old MacDonald,” arranged by Nelson Riddle, and adapted by songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, believe it or not. Before that, a song written in 1926 by songwriter Harry Woods which has become kind of a modern nursery rhyme. That was “When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along,” sung by Louis Armstrong in 1956. And starting that set, Nat King Cole and his trio with a nursery rhyme medley, recorded for Capitol Records in 1947.
We’re looking at jazz songs for children this hour, and this next song I have for you is one that did not begin as a children’s song. The jazz tune “Dat Dere” was a soulful hard bop instrumental number written by pianist Bobby Timmons in 1960, and recorded by Cannonball Adderley and Art Blakey that year. Songwriter Oscar Brown, Jr. added lyrics to the tune, making it a song all about the inquisitive nature of a child (which can, at times, be a little too enthusiastic).
Here is Oscar Brown, Jr. in 1960 with that song now, “Dat Dere,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - OSCAR BROWN, JR., "DAT DERE"
Oscar Brown, Jr. in 1960, off of his album Sin & Soul, with his original tune “Dat Dere,” adapted from a jazz melody by Bobby Timmons. “Dat Dere” has since become a jazz standard, performed by Mel Torme, Sheila Jordan, Tony Bennett and many others, and sometimes even incorporating the voices of children into the recording!
MUSIC CLIP - THE CANNONBALL ADDERLEY QUINTET, "DAT DERE"
We’ll have more songs about kids and for kids, in this Great American Children’s Songbook episode, in just a bit.
I’m Mark Chilla, and you’re listening to Afterglow
MUSIC CLIP - DUKE ELLINGTON ORCHESTRA, "CHIM CHIM CHEREE"
MUSIC CLIP - COUNT BASIE AND HIS ORCHESTRA, "LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN"
Welcome back to Afterglow, I’m Mark Chilla. We’ve been looking at jazz and pop tunes for and about kids this hour in a show I’m calling “The Great American Children’s Songbook.”
I’m a father myself, which inspired this particular episode. And one thing I know about kids is that they love silly songs. At a really young age, when language is all a jumble to them anyway, kids find a song with silly sounds or nonsense lyrics incredibly fun. I mean, think of some sounds from nursery rhymes, like “E-I-E-I-O,” “Eeny, Meeny,” “Itsy Bitsy,” “Hickory Dickory,” or “Knick Knack Paddy Whack.”
You could argue that jazz, and its use of nonsense syllables in the form of scat singing is the perfect genre for kids. Although scat melodies are usually a bit too complicated for your average preschooler. However, there are jazz and swing tunes that incorporate nonsense lyrics into the main melody itself. And let’s hear a few of those now.
We’ll start with a song written in 1958 by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh. This is Blossom Dearie in 1959 with “(Doop Doo-De-Oop) A Doodlin' Song,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - BLOSSOM DEARIE, "DOOP-DOO-DE-DOOP (A DOODLIN' SONG)"
MUSIC - JUNE CHRISTY, "KEE-MO KY-MO (THE MAGIC SONG)"
MUSIC - THE PIED PIPERS, "MAIRZY DOATS"
Some nonsense novelty songs for kids. Just now, we heard Jo Stafford and the Pied Pipers in 1944 with “Mairzy Doats,” a seemingly nonsense song, but if you listen closely, a song actually about the eating habits of horses, deer, sheep and goats. Before that, June Christy with “Kee-Mo, Ky-Mo (The Magic Song),” by songwriters Bob Hilliard and Roy Alfred That comes from her 1960 children’s album called The Cool School. And starting that set, Blossom Dearie in 1959 with “Doop-Doo-De-Oop) A Doodlin’ Song.”
The children’s song industry has been booming for many decades now. A lot of these songwriters come from the folk music world. But many of the songwriters who wrote for children’s television programs in some of those early years came from the world of jazz. Two such songwriters include Joe Raposo, the brilliant songwriter behind many of Sesame Street’s hit songs, and Mr. Rogers himself Fred Rogers, a songwriter in the classic American songbook mold who hired jazz pianist Johnny Costa as his music director for his show Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Let’s hear some jazz versions of songs from these hit children’s television shows now.
First up, here is Oscar Peterson along with the vocal group The Singers Unlimited, a group modeled in part after the Pied Pipers (three men and one woman), led by singer and arranger Gene Puerling. This is their version of the Sesame Street theme, on Afterglow.
MUSIC - THE OSCAR PETERSON TRIO + THE SINGERS UNLIMITED, "SESAME STREET"
MUSIC - HOLLY YARBROUGH, "IT'S SUCH A GOOD FEELING"
Singer Holly Yarbrough with Fred Roger’s song “It’s Such A Good Feeling,” from her 2008 album Mister Rogers Swings. Before that, Oscar Peterson with the vocal group The Singers Unlimited in 1971 with the theme from Sesame Street.
Speaking of beloved children’s entertainment figures like Mister Rogers and the cast of Sesame Street, this next song has lyrics by the one and only Dr. Seuss. It’s a song called “Because We’re Kids,” a tune written for the 1953 musical film The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. Dr. Seuss came up with the story, all about a diabolical piano teacher who forces kids to practice all day. This song is written from the perspective of the mistreated children, and has a plucky sort of innocence to it.
Let’s hear a version of this tune performed by Tony Bennett from his 1998 children’s-themed album The Playground. This is Tony Bennett with “Because We’re Kids,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, "BECAUSE WE'RE KIDS"
Tony Bennett in 1998, from his children’s-themed album The Playground, with the song “Because We’re Kids,” written in 1953 by composer Frederick Hollander, lyrics by Dr. Seuss.
In my household, songs play a huge role when it comes to our kid’s bedtime. Sometimes we sing silly songs, made-up songs, or classics, but bedtime songs or lullabies are a must every single evening. So to close off this hour of program, we’ll hear some nighttime songs for kids.
First up, this is Ella Fitzgerald in 1958 with the Mack David and Jerry Livingston song “Dreams Are Made For Children,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - ELLA FITZGERALD, "DREAMS ARE MADE FOR CHILDREN"
MUSIC - FRANK SINATRA, "CRADLE SONG (BRAHMS' LULLABY)"
Frank Sinatra and arranger Axel Stordahl in 1944 with “Cradle Song,” aka “Brahms’ Lullaby.” Before that, Ella Fitzgerald and arranger Marty Paich in 1958 with “Dreams Are Made For Children.”
Goodnight to all you kids and kids at heart out there, and thanks for tuning in to this Great American Children’s Songbook edition of Afterglow.
MUSIC CLIP - CLARK TERRY, "LULLABY"
Afterglow is part of the educational mission of Indiana University and produced by WFIU Public Radio in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. The executive producer is John Bailey.
Playlists for this and other Afterglow programs are available on our website. That’s at indianapublicmedia.org/afterglow.
I’m Mark Chilla, and join me next week for our mix of Vocal Jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook, here on Afterglow