Unless you are a serious fan of early West Coast rhythm and blues, or 1940s combo jazz from Southern California, it is unlikely that you will be familiar with Mabel Scott or Lorenzo Flennoy. Ms. Scott was a veteran of 1930s Harlem, and the Cotton Club in particular, who relocated to the West Coast in the 1940s, performed locally and then hit the R&B charts in 1947 with “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.” Pianist Lorenzo Flennoy led a trio patterned after Nat Cole’s small group – that is, piano, guitar and string bass accompanying jive unison vocals. Flennoy had led a big band at the Club Alabam in the 1930s, but the following decade spent time with his trio at such venues as Lovejoy’s, the Capri, Jack’s Basket Room and the Swing Club. Production documents suggest that Scott may have been performing with the Flennoy Trio when a series of three Soundies was produced in September-October 1944.
“Yankee Doodle Never Went to Town” was a pop song of the previous decade, one recorded by Benny Goodman, the Casa Loma Orchestra and Claude Hopkins. It is actually a much better song than the title suggests. Having the trio dressed as farmers, and playing in a barnyard, along with Mabel in a metallic-looking jumpsuit, probably reflects the fact that there was a standing set, and some handy costumes, in the studio on the day of sideline photography.
The trio’s support is strong, especially the electric guitar by Gene Phillips. And a tip of the Dodger cap to Ms. Scott who improvises on the melody and with the phrasing like any good jazz singer. You can bet that this Soundie pulled in a large number of dimes, especially in African American locales in urban center.