"Crazy Rhythm" is a thirty-two-bar swing show tune written in 1928 by Irving Caesar, Joseph Meyer, and Roger Wolfe Kahn for the Broadway musical Here's Howe. It has since become a jazz standard, inspiring at least 15 jazz albums named Crazy Rhythm, often with the song itself included. The song is also featured in the 1979 Steve Martin movie The Jerk, with the performing artist unlisted in the credits.
|Song by Roger Wolfe Kahn and His Orchestra|
|Songwriter(s)||Irving Caesar, Joseph Meyer, Roger Wolfe Kahn|
- Crazy rhythm, here's the doorway
- I'll go my way, you'll go your way
- Crazy rhythm, from now on
- We're through.
In addition, a well-received and quite elegant version of the song was recorded by Whispering Jack Smith (noted for his soft, but crystal clear 'whispered' delivery over the air waves); his recording quickly became one of the most recognised and favorite renditions of the song to flappers, their beaux, and other Bright Young Things of the Jazz Age.
It has been covered by a full range of artists from mainstream jazz to hillbilly bebop. At least 150 covers have been recorded. Harry James, Shirley Bassey, The King Cole Trio, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Chet Atkins, Bix Beiderbecke, Ben Bernie, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Erroll Garner, Stephane Grappelli, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Herman's Norwegian Jazz Group Soloist: Ragnar Robertsen (Recorded on October 27, 1954 and re-released on the extended play Odeon GEON 2), Mark Murphy, Les Paul, Hank Penny, Django Reinhardt, Nellie McKay, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra have all recorded this catchy tune. Most, but not all, are strictly instrumental.
Of special note is the performance by Doris Day and Gene Nelson in the 1950 film Tea for Two. This is a frame tale based on a putative production of No, No, Nanette (written in 1925 by the prolific Caesar, Otto Harbach, and Vincent Youmans); "Tea for Two" being a number inserted into the original Nanette. "Crazy Rhythm" is presented in this film as a demonstration for backers of the production-to-be. Thus, it has come to be associated with the popular "Tea" and Nanette, while Here's Howe is largely forgotten. Day and Nelson also recorded "Crazy Rhythm" on the album Tea for Two—not a soundtrack but a distinct studio recording in which Nelson does a tap solo, not seen or heard on film.
Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1956 for use on his radio show and it was subsequently included in the box set The Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings (1954-56) issued by Mosaic Records (catalog MD7-245) in 2009.
Encounters of Every Kind is an album by Meco, released in 1978. It was recorded after the success of Meco's platinum-selling album Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, and in a similar fashion to that album, contained disco-styled interpretations of the original score from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. On side B the first song is a cheerful rendition of "Crazy Rhythm", with gunshots in stereo and the lyrics with music in slow transition to the Meco's funk-jazz style.
"Crazy Rhythm" is, for the working jazz musician, inescapable. At a 2006 Birdland performance, post-bop pianist Andrew Hill "...who never plays anyone's standards but his own, began playing the opening motif from Meyer and Caeser's 1928 'Crazy Rhythm.' The drums played against the piano and the bass repeated an off-kilter Latin beat, but Tin Pan Alley was somewhere buried in the subtext... It was a clever moment, a rare nod to accessibility in an extremely opaque evening."
Another use of the tune was by Stephen Temperley in his 2004 play Souvenir. Its lead character, pianist, songwriter and singer Cosmé McMoon, sings and accompanies himself in this song throughout the play in snippet form while he tells the story and acts with the other character in the play, soprano Florence Foster Jenkins.
This Tin Pan Alley classic has affected musicians to the extent that many bands have styled themselves after one variation or another of Crazy Rhythm. It has lent its name to shows, albums, books, music stores and bars.
Showing the deep impact of the song on culture beyond music is a 2001 book, Crazy Rhythm, by Washington insider Leonard Garment, subtitled "From Brooklyn and Jazz to Nixon's White House, Watergate, and Beyond". Garment, Nixon's personal lawyer, advised him not to destroy the Watergate tapes.
Crazy Rhythm is credited by saxophone player Harry Francis with "...stepping up technical standards among British trombone players of the period" (in 1928). He says that a mislabeled record, nonetheless immediately recognized as being performed by Miff Mole's Molers, included a tricky phrase in the introduction, which local trombonist Edgar Jackson assumed had been given by Mole, also a trombone player. "At the time this assumption went more or less unchallenged, for although there were those around who felt sure that the phrase had been played on a valve instrument — nobody had ever heard of Mole using anything but the slide. The result of all this was that for weeks afterwards many British trombone players nearly killed themselves in an effort to reproduce a phrase that had in fact been played on the mellophone of Dudley Fosdick!" Francis says that George Chisholm, much later, confirmed to him that Fosdick, not Mole, had performed the tricky phrase. Still, Jackson's "...error of judgement must have served to loosen up local trombone technique no end!"
- Roger Wolfe Kahn & His Orchestra at The Red Hot Jazz Archive
- "Crazy Rhythm" at All Media Guide[dead link]
- Victor label at The Victor Orthophonic Page
- Tea for Two at Tap Wonderland
- "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- "allmusic.com". allmusic.com. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Carter, Benny at Encyclopædia Britannica Online
- Diamond Jubilee of Jazz at American Heritage
- Brilliant Corners, David Yaffe's review of Hill's 2006 Birdland concert at The Nation