Soon after joining Chick Webb and His Orchestra at 25 years old, Edgar Sampson composed one of his biggest hits, “Stompin’ at the Savoy.” 

Tune in today as we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with some of this compositions most notable covers!

First recorded in 1934, some attribute the song’s popularity to Benny Goodman, whose 1936 cover quickly rose to the top charts. But the tune topped the charts twice before Goodman’s cover: in 1934 with Chick Webb and His Orchestra and in 1936 with Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra.

The song’s name is derived from the Savoy Ballroom, which opened in 1926 in New York’s Harlem Neighborhood. Featuring a 10,000 square foot dance floor, this club quickly became a hot spot for the best dancers in town, it was called “The Home of Happy Feet”.

In 1927, Savoy Ballroom began hosting jazz band competitions. Chick Webb’s band triumphed in these battles over Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson and Benny Goodman’s bands, earning Webb the title “The King of the Savoy.” Webb’s band become the Savory’s house band.

Though “Stompin’ at the Savoy” was originally instrumental, Ella Fitzgerald’s scat versions have become legendary. And Andy Razaf later added lyrics, which praise its renowned namesake.

Many well-known dances were born or popularized at the Savoy, include the Lindy Hop which evolved into the jitterbug.

The Savoy Ballroom was torn down in 1958 to make way for a housing development. A commemorative plaque in its former location reads, “[The club] was a catalyst for innovation where dancers and musicians blended influences to forge new, wide-spread, and long-lasting traditions in music and dance. Whether they attended or not, all Americans knew the meaning of ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’.”

There are more than 950 recorded versions of “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” including versions by Judy Garland, Art Tatum, Ahmad Jamal, Jim Hall, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong.

This tune is featured in several films, such as The Benny Goodman Story (1955), Save the Tiger (1973) and When Harry Met Sally (1989).  “Stompin’ at the Savoy” is included in the Broadway musicals Bubbling Brown Sugar (1976), Black and Blue (1989) and Swing! (1999) – and was even featured in an episode of I Love Lucy in 1953.

Tune in today as we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with some of this compositions most notable covers!

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