Tune in to Jazz with Victor Cooper – weekdays from 6-9 a.m. MT – for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of this song as presented by Rodney Franks all week long starting April 8!
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“Crazy Rhythm” (1928) by Roger Wolfe Kahn, Joseph Meyer & Irving Caesar (lyrics) was originally written for the 1928 musical “Here’s Howe”. The first live recording of this song was made in 1928 by Ben Bernie, Peggy Chamberlain, and June O’Dea. In 1950 “Crazy Rhythm” was added to the movie “Tea for Two” starring Doris Day and Gene Nelson. The movie’s storyline is based on the concept of producing “No, No, Nanette”, a musical written in 1925 by Irving Caesar, Otto Harbach and Vincent Youmans, in which “Crazy Rhythm” is shown as a musical number aimed at attracting backers for the production. Consequently, the song is still associated with “Tea for Two” and “No, No, Nanette”, while “Here’s Howe” is largely forgotten.
Roger Wolfe Kahn (10/19/1907-7/12/1962) grew up in a banking family in Morristown, New Jersey. His father, Otto Kahn, with a motto of “Live life. Love beauty. Be happy,“ would come home on weekends from New York City. The family lived in London from 1912 to 1914 and frequently traveled. Kahn is said to have played over 18 instruments and took over leadership of the 12-piece Arthur Lange Orchestra when he was 17 years old. This was facilitated by his father’s purchase of the band for him. Kahn acted in the 1932 play “The Yacht Party” and was rumored to have flown the aeroplane performing stunts at the end of the film. Musicians in his orchestra included Red Nichols, Gene Krupa, Jack Teagarden, Morton Downey, Joe Venuti, Tommy Dorsey, and Artie Shaw. In the mid-1930s Kahn gave up the orchestra, becoming a test pilot for Grumman Aviation, where he tested many of the American planes flown in WWII. He went on to become Grumman’s director of service and product support. Roger and his father were the first father and son pair to appear separately on the cover of Time magazine, Otto in November 1925 and Roger in September 1927.
All three composers were associated with popular music of the time: Meyer wrote the tune for “If You Knew Susie” and co-wrote lyrics and tune for “California Here I Come”. Irving Caesar (7/4/1895-12/18/1996) wrote his first hit “Swanee” with his friend George Gershwin in 1919; the song took off when Al Jolson featured it. With Vincent Youmans he wrote “Tea For Two” and “I Want to Be Happy” which were added to the musical “No, No, Nanette.“ With Ted Koehler, he wrote “Animal Crackers In My Soup” for Shirley Temple in “Curley Top”. In the 1930s he wrote a series of songs for the League of Nations, promoting tolerance and unity. While the federal government turned them down, the Anti-Defamation League of the B’Nai B’rith later published them. He served on the Board of ASCAP for 33 years and was a founder of the Songwriters Guild of America. He was 101 years old when he died in 1996.
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