When I was in high school, I lived in Northfield, Illinois, the suburb next to the town of Winnetka (we had the same ZIP code, in fact). WNTH, our school’s radio station (you could get it if you lived close by and the wind was blowing in your direction), called itself “The Big Noise From Winnetka!” A few years later, I learned they had taken that name from a song, the subject of today’s Battle of the Bands.
The Bob Crosby Orchestra (Bob was Bing’s younger brother, and the orchestra was featured in “Holiday Inn” and probably a few other of Bing’s movies) was playing a gig at the Blackhawk Theater in Chicago one evening in 1938, and the band was late getting back from break. Bassist Bob Haggart and drummer Ray Bauduc started jamming around while they were waiting, and the song was the result. Later, Haggart arranged the song for the orchestra, and later Crosby and Gil Rodin wrote lyrics for it.
CONTESTANT #1: THE BOBCATS
The Bobcats were a small group within the Crosby Orchestra, of which Haggart and Bauduc were members. They recorded the song first. Here’s their version.
CONTESTANT #2: THE BOB CROSBY ORCHESTRA AND SINGERS
This is a version with the full Bob Crosby Orchestra and Singers, probably recorded sometime around 1940.
CONTESTANT #3: BETTE MIDLER
Bette Midler recorded the song for her 1979 album Thighs and Whispers. It was released as a single and reached #98 on the US Dance chart.
TIME FOR A VOTE…
The song has been recorded a number of times (by Cal Tjader, Eddy Mitchell, Gene Krupa, and others) and is a favorite among high school and college jazz bands (although, curiously, not by my alma mater). I wish I could feature all the other versions recorded, but then you’d be sitting here for hours. So, of these three versions, which did you like better? Let me know in the comments. I’ll announce the winner a week from today, April 8.
Once you finish voting in this battle, how about checking out some of the others? The A to Z Challenge starts today, so not all of them will be holding battles, and unfortunately I don’t have direct links for all of them, so you might have to scroll a little bit, but I’m sure they have some great tunes for you to check out.