One of the great pleasures of my years in New Orleans was a friendship with Danny Barker (1909-1994). After he moved back to his hometown from New York, Danny became a guiding light to young musicians, curator of the New Orleans Jazz Museum and a living link to the city’s musical past. The countless youngsters who learned from him came to know his history as a member of the influential Swing Era bands of Lucky Millinder and Cab Calloway, one of the music’s great rhythm guitarists and a writer of songs that last. I’m a day late in remembering what would have been his 107th birthday and happy to recognize it with this recording of Danny performing his most celebrated composition. At 01:46, watch for a photo of Danny with his wife, the fine blues singer Blue Lu Barker. Following that, you’ll see him with his Cab Calloway colleague bassist Milt Hinton.
To see Nat Cole and Johnny Mercer doing a television version of their hit record of Danny’s masterpiece, go here.