While I continue to investigate how Ghana television is able to claim the rights to the Fats Waller Soundie The Joint Is Jumpin’, here is another by Fats, a delightful rendition of his standard “Ain’t Misbehavin.”
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” was a collaboration between composer Waller and his long-time partner Andy Razaf, who provides the well-known lyrics. The song was introduced in 1929 at Connie’s Inn in Harlem. The revue, “Connie’s Hot Chocolates,” moved to Broadway later in the year with Louis Armstrong taking over as musical director. The tune became a standard and to date has been recorded by close to 1,300 jazz performers.
While the entire Soundie is delicious from beginning to end, there is one strange performance quirk that needs to be explained. On the soundtrack Fats calls out, “That’s easy, isn’t it Johnson? Take me, darlin’, take me to heaven.” This refers to Myra Johnson, the female vocalist on the date. But the young lady to whom he addresses these thoughts, and who then continues with the vocal, is not Myra Johnson, but rather Vivien Brown. What happened is that sometime after the recording session, it was decided to have Ms. Brown, a very comely woman, sideline the vocal in place of Johnson. This is not an unusual practice in Soundies production, although it is perhaps a bit more obvious here than in other Soundies shorts.
The band is in the background in this Soundie, with the focus place on the vocals and Fats’ fine piano. But for those keeping score, the personnel of the combo is John Hamilton, trumpet; Gene Sedric, tenor sax and clarinet; Al Casey, guitar; Cedric Wallace, string bass; and “Slick” Jones, drums.