"Harlem Nocturne" is a jazz standard written by Earle Hagen (music) and Dick Rogers (lyrics) in 1939 for the Ray Noble orchestra, of which they were members.[1] The song was chosen by the big-band leader Randy Brooks the next year as his theme song.[2]

"Harlem Nocturne"
Instrumental by Ray Noble Orchestra
Composer(s)Earle Hagen, Dick Rogers

The version by the Viscounts has the distinction of being released twice and rising high on the Billboard charts each time:[3] first in 1959, when it peaked at #52, and again in 1966, peaking at #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[2]

"Harlem Nocturne", in a version with Bud Shank on alto sax,[4] was the theme song of the television series Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer[5] and The New Mike Hammer.[6]

Harold Faltermeyer recorded a version for the soundtrack to the film Tango & Cash.

In 1990, the pianist Kofi Wilmot gained popularity in the instrumental world for his cover version from the album of the same name, Harlem Nocturne.[7]

Danny Gatton released a version in 1993 on his album Cruisin' Deuces (Elektra/Rhino).

The Sonny Moorman Group released a version on their 2009 Live As Hell album (Atlas Records).

Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet recorded a version on their 1987 7" single "Schlagers!" (and included it on their 1988 LP Savvy Show Stoppers) entitled "Harlem by the Sea."

Some singers have recorded "Harlem Nocturne", adding lyrics. Mel Tormé recorded a version with lyrics for his 1963 album Sings "Sunday In New York" And Other Songs About New York, beginning with "a nocturne for the blues". Sylvia Brooks recorded a different version, arranged by Jeff Colella, on her album Dangerous Liaisons in 2009,[8] starting with "deep music fills the night", which has since been covered. Other vocal versions are by Ernestine Anderson, Carla White, Denise Jannah, Bonnie Bramlett, and Jacintha. Brian Setzer does a version loosely based on the theme called "Hollywood Nocturne".



"Harlem Nocturne" has been recorded by many diverse artists, including:


  1. ^ "'Andy Griffith' Composer Dies at 88". CNN. May 27, 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
  2. ^ a b c Marsh, Dave (1999). The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. Da Capo Press. p. 610. ISBN 978-0-306-80901-9.
  3. ^ Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. 7th edn, 2000.
  4. ^ Bruce Babcock (2009), Interview with Earle Hagen
  5. ^ a b McLellan, Dennis (May 28, 2008). "Television Composer Earle Hagen Wrote Memorable Tunes". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
  6. ^ The New Mike Hammer at IMDb  
  7. ^ "Harlem Nocturne Overview". AllMusic.com.
  8. ^ Dangerous Liaisons at AllMusic
  9. ^ "42 Versions of Harlem Nocturne", WFMU's Beward of the Blog, May 29, 2008.
  10. ^ Gress, Jesse (2006). Guitarevolution: Lessons from the Groundbreakers & Innovators. CMP Media. p. 84. ISBN 0-87930-868-0.
  11. ^ "Michael Lington Overview". Allmusic.com.
  12. ^ "Time Again Overview". Allmusic.com.
  13. ^ "Time Again – David Sanborn". JazzTimes.com.