Let’s just tell it like it is…. Jazz started out as a really disreputable kind of music. It was played in bordellos. Musicians who really loved this sound and made a commitment to play it sometimes were branded by it, and found it hard to get work in other ‘legitimate’ orchestras and bands that played classical or popular dance band music…
‘Chicago Style’ is a tune about this early era of jazz. Written by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Burke, the song tells about Chester, the king of the trombone. He is an elegant guy who buys his shirts in Paris and gets opera tickets in New York… but he plays down and dirty trombone! The juxtaposition of sophisticated guy and disreputable music weave through the song.
The trombone player’s name was an inside joke. Though the composer was known and published as Jimmy Van Heusen, his actual name was Edward Chester Babcock. The name Chester got woven into several songs and projects as a tip-of-the-hat to him.
I have been in the recording studio laying down tracks for my upcoming album, ‘Two Songs Walked Into a Bar’. One of the greatest things about recording sessions is working with really good musicians. Want to share some of it with me? Here is Larry Leight, a trombonist with a lot of history and love of early (trad) jazz. He uses a mute that is shaped like a silver bowler hat in order to get the sound we are looking for as he plays against my vocal scratch track.
Listen and Enjoy – but be forewarned: it’s a catchy tune that’s gonna stay in your head!