There are two male blues & jazz singers I really adore. One is Joe Williams and the other one is Jimmy Rushing.
Jimmy, born as James Andrew, Rushing (Aug. 26, 1901 – June 8, 1972) was known as “Mr. Five by Five” due his corpulent shape. He was famous for his blues interpretations but actually, he could sing almost anything.
Rushing played violin and piano in his youth and studied music in high school. By the time he was 18, he began working professionally as a singer.
From 1923-1924, he was singing in California (with Jelly Roll Morton amongst others). In 1927, he moved to Kansas City and joined Walter Page’s Blue Devils. He recorded with them in 1929 and then joined Bennie Moten in the same year, staying until Moten’s death in 1935.
Count Basie picked up the pieces of the Moten band and Rushing joined the new Count Basie Orchestra. This was a perfect match and Rushing stayed for 15 years. While with the Basie Orchestra, he also appeared in several film shorts and features.
Rushing was with Basie until October 1948 and occasionally during 1949. When the Count Basie Orchestra broke up in 1950, he shortly retired and then formed his own combo (1950-1952). He freelanced as a soloist during the 1950s.
In the 1960s, he sang with Harry James, Benny Goodman and Eddie Condon and stayed active until his death in 1972.
I Want A Little Girl
A clip from “The Subject is Jazz”, presented by Dr. Billy Taylor, summer 1958
“I Want A Little Girl” is a beautiful blues. Jimmy Rushing’s distinctive voice could be powerful with a wide range from baritone to tenor. But it could also be warm, soft and soulful like in this number.
What do you think about this version? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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