With Round six, we enter the final half of the 2021 Song Draft. Four out of the five picks I have featured all have a Detroit connection. In a roundabout way, this pick has a Detroit connection, but not because of the artists. The connection comes from how I was introduced to it. For my sixth pick, I thought I would dip into a jazz cut that took me forever to find. Here is the story:
As a kid I was introduced to Soupy Sales by my dad. He grew up watching him in the 60’s In Detroit on Lunch With Soupy and in the 70’s I watched him on The New Soupy Sales Show. When some of the old black and white shows became available on video, my dad scooped them up for us to watch. In one particular episode, Pookie (the Lion) comes up to the window and starts lip synching this jazzy song with no lyrics. It was awesome! I had to have the song! The only problem, I had no idea who did it.
Keep in mind, there was no Siri or Google at the time, so it took me years to get an answer. When I started working in radio, I took the liberty to play a snippet of the Soupy clip on the air and asked my listeners if they were familiar with it. Eventually, someone came through for me and told me that the song was done by Oscar Peterson and it was called “Mumbles.”
I immediately began to search for this song at record stores, but came up empty. I eventually went to a used record store and while searching through the used CD’s found it! The album is from 1964.
I was familiar with Oscar Peterson. He was an amazing jazz pianist. He released over 200 recordings and won 7 Grammys. His friends called him “O.P.” and the great Duke Ellington called him the “Maharaja of the Keyboard.”
I was NOT familiar with the “Plus One” on the album, Clark Terry.
I am embarrassed to admit that, because he is an amazing trumpet player. He was one of the most recorded musicians in the history of jazz, with more than nine-hundred recordings. His discography reads like a “Who’s Who In Jazz,” with personnel that included greats such as Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Ben Webster, Aretha Franklin, Charlie Barnet, Doc Severinsen, Ray Charles, Billy Strayhorn, Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Gerry Mulligan, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Milt Jackson, Bob Brookmeyer, and Dianne Reeves.
He was with NBC for twelve years as one of the spotlighted musicians in the Tonight Show Band. It was during that time, he scored a smash hit as a singer with his irrepressible “Mumbles.” I use the term “singer” loosely as he scats through the whole song.
As a trumpet player, I was never good at improvisation. This is where a soloist makes up a solo on the spot with no music. He is aware of the chords and key, and makes it up along the way. You could hear the same song 5 days in a row, but the solo would be different every time. That’s what is so amazing about “Mumbles.”
Clark Terry literally is improving and scatting the entire song along with the amazing jazz of The Oscar Peterson Trio. Some may find this one as just jibberish, however, I find it fun and it makes me smile every time I hear it.
There are a few different videos available on YouTube of him performing this live, but I keep coming back to the original studio cut – I hope you dig this as much as I do!
As an added humorous bonus – Believe it or not, someone posted the “lyrics” on a site on the net. I literally laughed out loud at this. You can find the lyrics here:
Kudos whoever took the time to write all that out!