Stories of Standards: “Cherokee” by Ray Noble
Tune in weekday mornings for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of “this song. Rodney Franks presents Stories of Standards Monday through Friday at 7:50 and 8:50 a.m. starting Monday, April 22!
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“Cherokee” was written by Ray Noble in 1938, as the first of five movements for an “Indian Suite” (Cherokee, Comanche War Dance, Iroquois, Seminole, and Sioux Sue). The B side of Noble’s original release was “By The Waters Of Minnetonka.” The B-segment segues from B Major to A Major to G Major before going to the B Flat tonic, which many early soloists found difficult to improvise on. It has since been recorded by over 300 performers.
Ray Noble (12/17/1903-4/3/1978), English bandleader, composer, arranger, radio comedian, and actor wrote popular songs, notably for his friend and associate Al Bowlly. Noble’s first song, “Goodnight, Sweetheart” (1931) was the title song for a British comedy and several subsequent compositions, including “Cherokee”, went on to become jazz standards. Noble was the first British bandleader/pianist to become a success in America. He was the staff arranger for the BBC Dance Orchestra when 21 years old and in 1934 he was invited to play at the Rainbow Room atop New York’s RCA building with Al Bowlly. His American band included performers Glenn Miller, Claude Thornhill, and Charlie Spivak. He disbanded the orchestra in 1937 and went on to play musical and comedic roles on the radio shows of Burns & Allen and Edgar Bergen and acted in seven films from 1932 to 1945, five times as “Orchestra Leader” or “Band Leader”. He also played comedic upper-class roles.
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