Editor, Webmaster: Phil Cartwright Editor@earlyjas.org
|In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
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contributions to Bill Fuller %Earlyjas, or
The early 20th century African-American lyricist, Henry "Harry" Creamer, was
born in Richmond Virginia in 1879. His career in music ran the gamut from
performing, to composing, to musical theater productions. Early on he worked for
the music publisher Gotham-Attucks. After this he began his most fruitful musical
alliance with composer/pianist John Turner Layton. They wrote their own
material (which Sophie Tucker was very fond of) and formed a vaudeville song
and dance team that played all over the U.S. and Europe.
Together, Creamer and Layton wrote the material for Bert Williams’ 1911
Zeigfield Follies act. Creamer and Layton wrote music for Broadway productions
between 1920 and 1928, including the 1922 shows, “Miss Lizzie,” and “Spice.”
However, Layton wasn’t the only composer with whom Creamer teamed. At
different times he also worked with James P. Johnson, J.C. Johnson (“Alabama
Stomp”) and Bert Williams. Harry Creamer was one of the founders, along with
bandmaster James R. Europe, of the Black entertainers group known as Club Clef.
Here are some of the tunes for which he wrote lyrics:
IF I COULD BE WITH YOU (ONE HOUR TONIGHT) – with composer/stride
pianist James P. Johnson in 1926.
It was first featured in Irvin C. Miller’s “Brownskin Models,” done by George
Randol and Andy Razaf. In 1930 it was introduced to the White market by singer
Ruth Etting and later by Maurice Chevalier. It was recorded in January of 1930 by
McKinney’s Cotton Pickers (it later became their theme song) and in June by the
Ben Pollack Orchestra with trombonist Jack Teagarden doing the vocal. McKinney’
s drummer, Cuba Austin, accused the Pollack band of stealing their arrangement.
According to Ben Pollack’s drummer, Ray Bauduc, the Pollack band’s recording of
the tune sold more copies in Cleveland, Ohio, than anywhere else in the country.
It was also recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1930, The Mill Brothers in 1964, and
was used in the film “The Man I Love” with Ida Lupino. Its success led to African-
American James P. Johnson’s acceptance into ASCAP.
AFTER YOU’VE GONE – with Turner Layton in 1918. In 1917 this song was their
first big hit and was inserted into the touring show of Schubert’s “So Long, Letty.”
When it was finally published by Broadway Music in 1918, the show was defunct.
For the next two years it was the number one and number two hit for three of the
most popular singers of the era: Marian Harris, and the duet of Henry Burr and
Albert Campbell. Then it languished until being revived in 1927, by Sophie
Tucker, only to be topped by Bessie Smith’s version the same year. It was again
revived by Benny Goodman in 1935, and was used in the musical films “For Me
and My Gal” starring Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, and 1949’s “Jolson Sings
WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS – with Turner Layton in 1922. This
tune was originally written for the show “Miss Lizzie,” but was performed more
successfully by Creamer and Layton themselves in a show called “Spice.” It was
first recorded by the Dixie Daisies in October of 1922, on the Cameo Label, and
also by Paul Whiteman later that same year. It had what jelly Roll Morton called,
“that Spanish tinge.” Still later on it became Louis Prima’s theme song.
|Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization