The use of the harpsichord in Come On-A My House by Rosemary Clooney [Song of the Week #68] was inspired by the song of this week.
Like Benny Goodman with his different small groups, clarinetist, composer and bandleader Artie Shaw (born: Arthur Jacob Arshawsky, 23.5.1910 – 30.12.2004) created a smaller combo out of his big band and called it Artie Shaw and his Gramercy Five. He needed something special to create a distinctive sound.
As Johnny Guarnieri told “Piano Jazz” radio host Marian McPartland in 1981, he was already in Shaw’s big band when Shaw called him one day in the fall of 1940: “Shaw asked me if I’d ever played the harpsichord, and I said: ‘Certainly.’ And he said, ‘Well that’s great; we’re gonna make some records tomorrow.’ . . . I was lying! So I said, ‘Artie—I don’t know what a harpsichord is.’ . . . He says, ‘I have one up the house; let’s go up there tonight—and we’ll rehearse, and we’ll make some records tomorrow.’”
The pianist got the hang of the antique instrument (with its stiffer keyboard action) pretty fast, he told a writer from Time-Life records in 1973: “I went home and practiced until I could trill with the fourth and fifth fingers for twenty seconds, then I was okay.”
Source: “Hip to the Harpsichord” The Wallstreet Journal – Masterpiece
The result was the recording of “Summit Ridge Drive” which became a million-seller and one of Shaw’s all-time favourite numbers, among others like “Frenesi“.
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Every Monday, I post a new “Song of the Week“.
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Song of the Week #14: “Frenesi” by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra
Song of the Week #68: “Come On-A My House” by Rosemary Clooney
Song of the Week #84: “Root Hog Or Die” by The Harlem Hamfats
Song of the Week #83: “Queer Notions” by Fletcher Henderson & His Orchestra
Song of the Week #82: “Bizet Has His Day” by Les Brown
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