Editor, Webmaster:  Phil Cartwright       Editor@earlyjas.org
In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
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In Tune               November 2006
Paul Whiteman

“…There seems to come a time in the career of every man who does any thinking whatever about his
future when he realizes that he must do something very radical or he will never advance one inch
beyond his present position… That was the condition in which I found myself in San Francisco in 1915. I
realized that I had worked and studied very hard all my life…I was working from morn to night in the
orchestra, in the quartet and also in a hotel orchestra, and that all I was getting for this experience and
this hard labor was $125 a week.
"Just then jazz was commencing to draw the attention of the American people. At that time jazz was so
outrageous that most musicians were nauseated at the very thought…Yet here was something that was
breaking down certain conventions long considered sacred…
"At that time literally everybody who played in a jazz band ‘faked’ or ‘vamped’ or, in the best English,
improvised. There was nothing intelligently and beautifully scored for these unique groups. I realized
the immense possibilities of the thing, and was the first to arrange definite accurate scores of popular
themes done with the same detailed care with which the symphony instrumentation is prepared…More
than this, the compositions could be played every time with the same effect, which was impossible in the
old-fashioned jazz band in which each player felt it his duty literally to compose the piece with each
"Musical effects do not come from poorly trained or unmusical players. In order to get the best results, I
must get the best players…Really, very fine jazz players are quite rare. The men are picked for their
personalities, their musicianship, and their versatility. They must make a good appearance at all times…
At present [1924], there are over 400 men employed in the 52 Paul Whiteman orchestras located all over
the United States and in London, Paris, Havana, and Mexico. All these orchestras receive careful
training and supervision and play according to specific directions which I have personally
prepared…"                                                       [Etude, Aug. 1924]

Paul called jazz “the folk music of the machine age.” Here are some tunes associated with his bands:

WHISPERING (1920), by Malvin and John Shonberger. This was the first recording Whiteman and his
orchestra ever made and it sold over a million copies in 1920. The recording included a slide-whistle
LIMEHOUSE BLUES (1924), by Philip Braham and introduced in the musical review, “Andre Charlot’s
Review of 1924,” by Gertrude Lawrence, Robert Hobbs and Frank Leslie. It was popularized by Paul
Whiteman and His Orchestra. It was revived in the 1968 Hollywood film, “Star!” by Julie Andrews and
a male chorus.
OH, LADY BE GOOD (1924), written by George Gershwin and introduced in the musical of the same
name by Walter Catlett. The tune was popularized by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. It was revived
for the 1941 film of the same title with Ann Southern and Robert Young.
WANG WANG BLUES (1921),composed by Gus Muller, Buster Johnson and Paul Whiteman’s trumpet
player, Henry Busse, who also wrote “Hot Lips.” The tune was popularized by the Paul Whiteman
Orchestra with, of course, a trumpet solo by its composer. It was used in the “Ziegfield Follies of 1921”
by the team of Van and Schenk.
SAN (1920), by Walt Michels and Lindsay McPhail. The tune was first popularized by the Paul Whiteman
Orchestra. Later, it was recorded by Ted Lewis and, in 1953 by Pee Wee Hunt.
RHYTHM KING (1928), by J. Russell Robinson; lyrics by Jo Trent, who also wrote “Muddy Waters,”
and  “My Kind of Love,” under the pseudonym, “Joe Hoover.” Recorded by Bix Beiderbecke for the
Okeh label, Paul Whiteman with the Rhythm Boys doing the vocal, and the Coon-Sanders Orchestra in
Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization
fascinating career was launched by a classically
trained viola player from Denver. His name was
Paul Whiteman. Due to his sophisticated conception
of syncopated  music he commanded the attention
of serious musicians both here and abroad.
Paul’s father, Wilberforce James Whiteman, was,
for 50 years, the superintendent of music in Denver’
s public schools. Paul was thus raised with music all
around him. Because viola players were few and far
between, he started playing that instrument in one
of his father’s orchestras. Later he joined the
Denver Symphony and, for a time, he even played
with the Russian Symphony Orchestra. At the time
of the San Francisco Fair he joined the San Francisco
Symphony. He also played with the Minetti String
Quartet. After that point, we’ll let Paul Whiteman
tell his own story: