On one hand, integration of any kind was rare in Soundies. On the other, producer and director William Forest Crouch saw the value of black cast subjects. He liked jazz, and (as production documents suggest) was wholly supportive of black Americans and, in particular, the Harlem community. The fact that he is responsible for a series of four Soundies featuring Phil Moore and the Phil Moore Four, a quintet that featured white guitarist Chuck Wayne, should come as only a minor surprise.
Phil Moore was a renaissance man in music, and in addition to jazz pianist and vocalist he served as a big band and studio arranger (the latter often uncredited), as well as vocal coach for such stars as Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge and Marilyn Monroe.
Moore was working in New York in the mid 1940s, performing in Harlem night spots and on 52nd Street. Trumpet player Johnny Letman, who takes a nice bop-influenced solo here, was often associate with Moore, as were string bassist Doles Dinkens and drummer Wallace Bishop. Chuck Wayne worked with Moore during this period and there is little attempt by Crouch to disguise the fact that the group is an integrated one.
“The Chair Song” is a slightly risqué double-entendre blues, innocuous enough that the censors paid it no attention. As a fine example of small group jazz from New York during the war years, this Soundie does the trick.
The Soundies advert promoting this film is really on the beam: “Ole fat boy Phil is really on the solid side. For he carries a lot of weight,”Gate,”and it’s not all on his hide. His playing is terrific and his voice is like a cello. He’s got four boys that beat it out golden and mellow. In a night spot that’s really hot, there’s a couple of sepia lassies offering a super combination of an ‘au reet’ song and lovely chassis.”