Stories of Standards: Flying Home

Aug 6, 2018

Charlie Barnett, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton
Credit https://jazzinphoto.wordpress.com/category/lionel-hampton/page/3/

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In 1939 the Benny Goodman band needed to fly for an engagement. When a nervous Lionel Hampton focused on music Goodman asked what he was humming and the outcome was the melody for “Flying Home”. They played it that night, recorded it later and “Flying Home” became Hampton’s signature song when he formed his own band. Sid Robin wrote lyrics for the song in 1941. The first recording featured two early examples of electronics in jazz (Charlie Christian on electric guitar and Lionel Hampton on motorized vibraphone), and some regard it as a precursor to rock and roll.

Benny Goodman (1909 - 1986) began his career on clarinet when twelve years old in Chicago; after moving to New York he formed a band which played on the 1934 radio show “Let’s Dance”, which was broadcast nationwide. He was known for hiring outstanding arrangers and musicians, leading rigorous rehearsals and having a terrifying glare (“the ray”) when displeased. Their 1938 Carnegie Hall concert was the first for a jazz group, one of the first well-known integrated jazz groups. He was also the first jazz musician to garner acclaim for his playing in classical musical settings.

Lionel Hampton (1909 - 2002) first learned to play fife and drums and started playing the vibraphone as a teenager. In 1930 he was called in to a recording session with a Les Hite band that backed Louis Armstrong. A vibraphone was available; he started playing it and was recorded on “Memories of You”, which became a hit. As a composer and arranger he wrote over 200 works. President Eisenhower asked him to serve as a goodwill ambassador, which led to tours of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East.

Sid Robin (1912-1986) wrote lyrics in 1928 for an Earl Hines song (“My Monday Date”) which was recorded by several bands, including Louis Armstrong’s. With Woody Herman and band member Joe Bishop he wrote “Woodchopper’s Ball” and in the 1940s and 1950s wrote several songs for films starring Gene Autrey and Roy Rogers. ASCAP shows him as having a total of 117 songs.