Bluebird; New York, October 11, 1939: Tommy Lindsay-Joe Guy-t/Earl Hardy-tb/Jackie Fields-Eustis Moore-as/Coleman Hawkins-ts/Gene Rodgers-p/William Oscar Smith-sb/Arthur Herbert-d.
The possibilities opened up after this recording. No refrain, no repetition; just one long, daring, tenor sax run. Yet it still contained the three defining elements of music: harmony, rhythm and melody. The importance and influence of this recording can’t be overlooked as it changed the entire expression and interpretation of jazz.
Unlike the cornet or clarinet, the tenor sax would later become part of the foundation of rhythm-and-blues, hold it’s own in the creation of rock-and-roll and was carried through into ska, new wave and pop. What the surf guitar is to California, the tenor sax is to New York. And part of that imagery is due, in part, to this recording.
I can’t imagine what it would be like, in 1939, to hear this song for the first time on the radio or maybe on a turntable at a friend’s house . “What the hell just happened ?” was my reaction and immediately wanted to hear the song again. Just Amazing. Who’s the director or arranger? Was there even a director? Was this spontaneous or practiced? Is it a group expression or the sole voice of the soloist? You can’t hum it or clap to it; you can’t dance to it. This definitely wasn’t the expression of Dixieland or Big Band Swing anymore.