Song of the Day: Bugle Call Rag, composed by Jack Pettis, Bill Meyers, and Elmer Schoebel, was first recorded as "Bugle Call Blues" in 1922 by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings (whose personnel included Pettis and Schoebel). Taking a lick from the military morning trumpet call, the song jumps off and swings to a glorious finish. Nothing, but NOTHING compares to the Dean Kincaide-arranged version that was delivered on live radio by the Benny Goodman Big Band, featuring an utterly scorching solo by Harry James. James was so much the matinee idol of the jazz trumpet that my mother, a screaming teenager back then, nearly fell out of the balcony of the Brooklyn Paramount, watching him in concert with the Goodman band. You can listen to many of the actual studio recordings of BG during the era, but it was in live performance that the great clarinetist earned his stripes as the King of Swing. Check it out here and also the original 1922 Kings rendition, a rendition by Jack Pettis and His Pets in 1929, a Glenn Miller version, and one by the 101 Strings Orchestra. Memorial Day is normally a somber holiday; let's take a cue from the New Orleans spirit that remembered the dead with musical celebration; if the departed were going to Paradise, they'd have soared there with this jazz classic.
Song of the Day: Ghosttown features the music and lyrics of Jason Evigan, Evan Bogart, Sean Douglas, and Madonna who recorded the song for her newest album "Rebel Heart." The album track is performed as a ballad on her new album [YouTube link], But the song gains distinction this week as the 45th No. 1 single to chart Billboard's Dance Club Songs, the most of any Number One single on any chart in the history of Billboard. Among the remixers who took the song to Number One, check out the Dirty Pop Mix, DJ Mike Cruz NYC Club Mix, Offer Nissam Drama Mix, Razor N Guido Remix, and the S-Man Mix. And while you're at it, check out the Billboard Music Awards tonight.
Song of the Day: Let the Good Times Roll, words and music by New Orleans-blues singer Sam Theard and his wife Fleecie Moore, was first recorded by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five [YouTube link] for the 1947 film, "Reet, Petite, and Gone." The song has been recorded by so many different artists from so many different genres. But yesterday, the King of the Blues passed away [clip of Eric Clapton's eulogy]. And so today, I give you three Monarchs, and maybe One in waiting: Tony Bennett, joining B. B. King on vocals (who always played a mean blues guitar), from the Bennett album "Playin' with My Friends." And check out the live Bobby Bland and B. B. King version as well [YouTube link]. This King knew had to live; his discography will let the good times roll as long as human beings have the capacity to hear. Long live the King. Tonight, you can check out more blues royalty, a biopic of the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith, played by Queen Latifah in "Bessie." (And let's not forget Ben E.King.) And here's to what I hope will be a Monarch-in-Waiting: American Pharoah, winner of the Kentucky Derby, has just won the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes, the second victory on the way to the Belmont and the Triple Crown.
Song of the Day: Salt Peanuts includes composer credits for the great be-bop pioneers, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, and drummer Kenny Clarke. Many recordings of this be bop standard exist; it cannot be called lyrically dense, but it is a lot of fun. It was most famously recorded on this date by the great Dizzy Gillespie and his All Stars in New York for Guild Records in 1945 [YouTube link].