Editor, Webmaster: Phil Cartwright Editor@earlyjas.org
|In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
Additions, comments, corrections,
contributions to Bill Fuller %Earlyjas, or
[ reprinted from the Earlyjas Rag of Nov.2004]
A lot of great music came out of stage reviews and theatrical musicals of the 20' and 30's in New York.
One that was a vehicle for the work of Fats Waller was Connie Immerman's "Hot Chocolates of
In the 20's, there were three great Harlem night clubs: The Cotton Club (for whites only), Small's
Paradise, and Connie's Inn (both for blacks and whites). Connie's Inn was called The Shuffle Inn when
it was established in 1921. The name changed when Connie and George Immerman took over the
basement cabaret in 1923. Before this, the Immerman brothers had operated a delicatessen where a
young Fats Waller had worked as a delivery boy.
Musical reviews were the order of entertainment at Connie's Inn. Many of these were staged by a
man named Leonard Harper. It was Harper who staged "Hot Chocolates” where its run was so
successful that the Immermans decided to take a stage version of it to Broadway.
"Hot Chocolates" opened at the Hudson Theater on 44th Street in June of 1929. Its cast of 85 with
new songs by Fats Waller, Andy Razaf, and Harry Brooks portrayed a taste of nightlife in Harlem in
song, skit and dance. It was also the Broadway debut of Louis Armstrong who had an acclaimed solo
on "Ain't Misbehavin" and, on stage, was part of a trio known as the Thousand Pounds of Harmony.
"Hot Chocolates" was one of two all black shows to open on Broadway in 1929. It had a good run of
219 performances. The other show was "Messin' Around" with a score by Waller's teacher, James P.
Johnson. It closed after 33 performances.
This month and next we'll take a look at not only some information about the tunes of "Hot
Chocolates of 1929" but also about the show itself and the people that made it happen.
-SWEET SAVANNAH SUE - (1929)-by Thomas "Fats" Waller, Andy Razaf, and Harry Brooks. This
was a chorus line feature in the show, particularly for a part of the chorus line called The Eight Bon-
Bon Buddies who performed a soft-shoe dance. The singing of this tune in the show was done by
Margaret Simms, Paul Bass, and The Jubilee Singers.
-AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' - (1929) - by Thomas "Fats" Waller, Andy Razaf, and Harry Brooks.
Waller's verse resonates with ragtime piano. His first chorus states the melody but not heavily - more
by dancing around it until he gets to the second chorus where his awesome left hand kicks in. Louis
paraphrases the melody on his horn and then does a vocal chorus. Armstrong was very fond of this
tune and felt it had done much to further his career.
-BIG BUSINESS-(1929)-by Eddie Green contains some music but was actually a comedy skit dealing
with the fixing of a prize-fight for the "in-between-weight" championship. The opening scene features
Jazzlips Richardson's minstrel-style stuttering. Waller's piano passages which accompany the second
part of the skit swing mightily.
-BLACK AND BLUE - (1929)-by Thomas "Fats" Waller, Andy Razaf, and Harry Brooks. In the show
it was sung by Edith Wilson. In regards to the staging of a show such as this, the lyrics become a love-
lorn lament by a dark-skinned woman rather than a song about racial injustice in general. The verse
says, "Browns and yellows all have fellows/ Gentlemen prefer them light." It was true. For shows like
"Hot Chocolates" dark-skinned girls were not hired for the chorus.
|Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization