The strike by the American Federation of Musicians in 1942 – usually dubbed the “recording ban” – included Soundies, and it forced producers to turn to a variety of new sources for soundtracks. The origin of the pre-recorded music for this black cast Soundie is unknown, as is the personnel; the trumpet solo is sidelined by New York-based comedian Dewey Brown.
On June 17 or 18, 1943, actress/vocalist Francine Everett recorded the vocal for “Toot That Trumpet” over the instrumental soundtrack. Everette is best known as a skillful actress who appeared in black cast films from the late 1930s through the late 1940s, including Dirty Girty from Harlem, USA (1946).
The completed soundtrack was used the week of August 2, 1943 to back a black dance and vocal Soundie also titled Toot That Trumpet. Featured dancers Charles Cook and Ernest Brown were well-loved Harlem performers who made a few short subjects and features, but preferred nightclubs the variety stage. They are known for their “tall performer (Cook) – short performer (Brown)” routine. The team was formed in 1930, combining tap dance and comedy based on the difference in their heights. They worked at the Cotton Club in the 1930s and in the following decade were frequently booked at the Apollo Theater, the Harlem Opera House and other Harlem nightspots.
The chorus line dancers billed as the “Sepia Steppers” were associated at one time or another with the Zanzibeauts from the Club Zanzibar. The membership of the Zanzibar line would change from show-to-show, and whether any Soundie configuration was the “working Zanzibeauts” is open to question. The dancer to the far right is Alice Barker, who gained fame through a YouTube video that shared her watching her Soundies as a 103-year-old.