Song Draft 2021 – Round 6 Pick – Mumbles – The Oscar Peterson Trio Plus One.
With Round six, we enter the final half of the 2021 Song Draft. Four out of the five picks I have featured all have a Detroit connection. In a roundabout way, this pick has a Detroit connection, but not because of the artists. The connection comes from how I was introduced to it. For my sixth pick, I thought I would dip into a jazz cut that took me forever to find. Here is the story:
As a kid I was introduced to Soupy Sales by my dad. He grew up watching him in the 60’s In Detroit on Lunch With Soupy and in the 70’s I watched him on The New Soupy Sales Show. When some of the old black and white shows became available on video, my dad scooped them up for us to watch. In one particular episode, Pookie (the Lion) comes up to the window and starts lip synching this jazzy song with no lyrics. It was awesome! I had to have the song! The only problem, I had no idea who did it.
Keep in mind, there was no Siri or Google at the time, so it took me years to get an answer. When I started working in radio, I took the liberty to play a snippet of the Soupy clip on the air and asked my listeners if they were familiar with it. Eventually, someone came through for me and told me that the song was done by Oscar Peterson and it was called “Mumbles.”
I immediately began to search for this song at record stores, but came up empty. I eventually went to a used record store and while searching through the used CD’s found it! The album is from 1964.
I was familiar with Oscar Peterson. He was an amazing jazz pianist. He released over 200 recordings and won 7 Grammys. His friends called him “O.P.” and the great Duke Ellington called him the “Maharaja of the Keyboard.”
I was NOT familiar with the “Plus One” on the album, Clark Terry.
I am embarrassed to admit that, because he is an amazing trumpet player. He was one of the most recorded musicians in the history of jazz, with more than nine-hundred recordings. His discography reads like a “Who’s Who In Jazz,” with personnel that included greats such as Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Ben Webster, Aretha Franklin, Charlie Barnet, Doc Severinsen, Ray Charles, Billy Strayhorn, Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Gerry Mulligan, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Milt Jackson, Bob Brookmeyer, and Dianne Reeves.
He was with NBC for twelve years as one of the spotlighted musicians in the Tonight Show Band. It was during that time, he scored a smash hit as a singer with his irrepressible “Mumbles.” I use the term “singer” loosely as he scats through the whole song.
As a trumpet player, I was never good at improvisation. This is where a soloist makes up a solo on the spot with no music. He is aware of the chords and key, and makes it up along the way. You could hear the same song 5 days in a row, but the solo would be different every time. That’s what is so amazing about “Mumbles.”
Clark Terry literally is improving and scatting the entire song along with the amazing jazz of The Oscar Peterson Trio. Some may find this one as just jibberish, however, I find it fun and it makes me smile every time I hear it.
There are a few different videos available on YouTube of him performing this live, but I keep coming back to the original studio cut – I hope you dig this as much as I do!
As an added humorous bonus – Believe it or not, someone posted the “lyrics” on a site on the net. I literally laughed out loud at this. You can find the lyrics here:
Kudos whoever took the time to write all that out!
took a little ride down Memory Lane, and up the 401 to Toronto did ya? Growing up near there, Oscar’s name is very well known, but not being into jazz (especially as a kid) I really knew his name more than his work. But there’s no doubt he was a real great. I sort of wish some rock/pop star would have brought him on board for session work, or maybe a duet (like Billy Joel did with Ray Charles) to introduce him to a younger audience and new crowd, but I guess he did great doing his own music his own way.
I never knew Soupy Sales had a show! I watched ‘Hollywood Squares’ sometimes when young and wondered who the heck that guy was and why he was on there.
Love the Billy/Ray duet!!
Soupy was quite the game show guest! Seemed to always be on Pyramid with Dick Clark. Dick actually appeared on a Soupy Show…
Heh. I remember catching reruns of Soupy Sales. He was trip. I don’t recall the episode you referred to but, I have seen his shows as a kid.
This is funny. I’m suddenly reminded of two things: Yellow Ledbetter and this…
Here is the clip
It sounds like he’s singing what his horn is usually playing. Such good jamming. Nice choice and a wonderful write-up.
Exactly! His scat is literally one big trumpet solo … Without the trumpet
I like everything about this take. Your connection, the music, how it grabbed you, the journey to find it. We’ve lost something with all this instant gratification.
Im a big Oscar guy (fellow Canuck) and I have Terry all over my record pile. I missed this collaboration along the way but Man do I love it. No idea CT was in the Tonight Show band but it makes sense. They were all great jazz guys.
Soupy (and you) has been a source of music for me in the last while. This cut and his son’s band. Very cool piece fella.
Thanks! Discovering Terry was a joy! Underrated players in my opinion
Some scat sounds forced not Terrys’
This is pleasant listening. I enjoyed it! I love how you found it after remembering the Soupy Sales bit. And then being able to ask your radio audience, was great! Finding a song or recording could indeed be an insurmountable challenge before the internet.
I thought I’d never find it. The fact that a country listener was the one who told me what it was amazes me to this day.
That’s awesome. 🙂
I loved the story of how you tracked it down!
Found Mumbles on Spotify – great listen.
I wish it was longer than 2 minutes!! Lol
Love this – a great change of pace for the draft. And I really enjoyed your sleuthing story – I think it’s easy to forget how things were before you could pull out your phone. The effort you had to put into finding stuff Added a bit to the rewarding feeling you got when you finally did
I’m glad to see positive reactions to this! Wasn’t sure how it would be received. Even before I submitted this as my pic, I thought it might stick out like a sore thumb.
We certainly are very spoiled as far as the technology we have on our phones. While driving my son home this morning he asked me a question about something. After I answered him, he looked up whatever I had mentioned on his phone as we were driving. So much information is at our fingertips today, whereas when we wanted something like that before we had to go to the encyclopedia!
So true. When I was in college in the 80s I used to take a stack of CDs with me whenever driving home or back to school. My parents were like why are taking so many and I said I don’t know what I might want to listen to. Now i have not only all the CDs I had but pretty much most of recorded popular music on my phone via streaming services. And yes same thing with just general knowledge
Lol….we are so alike! I always had stacks of CDs to take with me. Prior to that I had 10-20 “mix” tapes I recorded for cruising around.
Great write up Keith! And a great pick!
Love the infectious groove of this tune. The fact the lyrics are all gibberish doesn’t matter at all. Your background story is great as well!