Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Christmas Night in Harlem

First recorded by The Paul Whiteman Orchestra (1934).
Also recorded The Raymond Scott Quintette (instrumental, 1939).
Popular version by Louis Armstrong & The Benny Carter Orchestra (1955).

From the wiki: “‘Christmas Night in Harlem’ was written in 1934 by Raymond Scott, and the song was first recorded by The Paul Whiteman Orchestra the same year. ‘Christmas Night in Harlem’ has been covered by Perry Como, Benny Carter, Johnny Mercer, Banu Gibson, The Beau Hunks, Clarence Williams, Paul Whiteman, Maria Muldaur, and Jack Teagarden but the most celebrated recording was made by Louis Armstrong & The Benny Carter Orchestra.

“A 1931 graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied piano, theory and composition, Scott, under his birth name (Harry Warnow), began his professional career as a pianist for the CBS Radio house band. In late 1936, Scott recruited a band from among his CBS colleagues, calling it The Quintette. The original sidemen were Pete Pumiglio (clarinet); Bunny Berigan (trumpet, soon replaced by Dave Wade); Louis Shoobe (upright bass); Dave Harris (tenor sax); and Johnny Williams (drums). They made their first recordings in New York on February 20, 1937, for the Master Records label, owned by music publisher/impresario Irving Mills (who was also Duke Ellington’s manager). In 1938, Whiteman featured The Quintette, accompanied by Whtieman’s orchestra, performing Scott compositions at Carnegie Hall as part of the long-running Experiments In Modern American Music series (where Whiteman had debuted Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody In Blue’ in 1924).

“Although Scott never scored cartoon soundtracks, his music is familiar to millions because of its adaptation by Carl Stalling in over 120 classic Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck and other Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated shorts. One of Scott’s best-known compositions is ‘The Toy Trumpet’, a cheerful pop confection that is instantly recognizable to many people who cannot name the title or composer. In the 1938 film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Shirley Temple sings a version of the song with lyrics. Trumpeter Al Hirt’s 1955 rendition with Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops has become a standard. ”

The Raymond Scott Quintette, “Christmas Night in Harlem” (1939):

Louis Armstrong & The Benny Carter Orchestra (1955):

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