Jumpin' at the Woodside

"Jumpin' at the Woodside" is a song first recorded in 1938 by the Count Basie Orchestra, and considered one of the band's signature tunes. When first released it reached number 11 on the Billboard charts and remained on them for four weeks. Since then, it has become a frequently recorded jazz standard.

"Jumpin' at the Woodside"
Single by Count Basie
ReleasedDecember 17, 1938[1]
RecordedAugust 22, 1938[1]
Songwriter(s)Count Basie, Eddie Durham[1][2]

Song detailsEdit

The song was recorded on August 22, 1938 for Decca and was released on December 17 of that year.[1] It charted as high as #11[1] and was on the charts for four weeks.[3] That original 1938 recording features solos by Earle Warren (alto sax), Buck Clayton (trumpet), Lester Young (tenor sax), and Herschel Evans (clarinet).[4]

The song is considered one of the Basie band's "signature" tunes,[5][6] a "favorite",[7] and even "a definition of swing."[4]

While many liner notes credit the tune only to Basie, historians and others also credit band member Eddie Durham.[1][2] Like many Basie numbers of that era, it was a "head arrangement" collaboratively created by the band.[6] Sullivan indicates Durham wrote the tune in 1937 and then Basie refined it.[1] The tune was based on earlier songs such as Jammin' for the Jackpot and John's Idea. Durham had left the band by the time it was recorded.[1]

The word "jumpin" in the title is a triple entendre – it means lively as in "the joint is jumping", a synonym for dancing or a synonym for sex.[8]

The Woodside HotelEdit

The location in the title refers to the Woodside Hotel, which was located on Seventh Avenue at 142nd Street in Harlem (and has since been demolished).[2] It was operated by Love B. Woods, an African-American[9] who operated a number of "dingy flophouses", some of which had "unsavory reputation[s]".[10] But the Woodside distinguished itself by becoming a popular place for jazz musicians and Negro league baseball teams to stay while in New York during segregation.[11] Later, Woods would become better known for his involvement in operating the Hotel Theresa, a much more upscale hotel that was called the "Waldorf of Harlem".[10]

The band stayed at the Woodside repeatedly and even rehearsed in the basement of the hotel.[12] Singer Ella Fitzgerald (who sometimes performed with the band) also stayed at the Woodside in 1937 when the band was playing at the Roseland Ballroom.[2]

Other recordings and appearancesEdit

The song was used in famous Lindy Hop dance numbers by the troupe Whitey's Lindy Hoppers in the Broadway show Hellzapoppin as well as other shows of that era.[13][14] The routine was recorded in the 1941 film version which can be seen on YouTube[15] (though the movie was released with different music over the sequence for licensing reasons).[14]

In addition to numerous Basie recordings over the years, the song has been recorded by a number of artists including Lionel Hampton,[16] Monk Montgomery,[17] Oscar Peterson,[18] Django Reinhardt,[19] Buddy Rich,[20] and others. In 1957, Jon Hendricks wrote lyrics to the tune to be performed by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.[21]

The appearances of Gene Gene the Dancing Machine on The Gong Show would be prefaced with the opening bars of the song.[22]

The song is heard in the 1993 film Swing Kids[23] and in broadway musicals such as 1999's Swing! and 2010's Come Fly Away.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Sullivan, Steve (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Volume 2. Minneapolis: Scarecrow Press. p. 455. ISBN 9780810882959. OCLC 793224285.
  2. ^ a b c d Nicholson, Stuart (2004). Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz, Updated Edition. London: Routledge. pp. 50–51. ISBN 9781136788130. OCLC 884745086. Toward the end of 1937, Ella moved again, this time to the Woodside Hotel at 2424 Seventh Avenue at 142nd Street, to be close to Jo Jones, the drummer from the Count Basie band. The band had recently hit town and was playing the Roseland Ballroom, and most of its members were staying at the Woodside, which achieved a kind of immortality with Basie's hit "Jumpin' at the Woodside....Drummer Hal Austin remembered Ella at the Woodside: 'When she was living in the Woodside Hotel, 'Jumpin' at the Woodside'! Eddie Durham wrote that tune. That was a good-time building!'"
  3. ^ "Songs from the Year 1938". TSORT - The World's Music Charts. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 5th Edition. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0857125958. OCLC 804879997.
  5. ^ Milkowski, Bill (September 2013). "Review: Count Basie Orchestra - Jumpin' at the Woodside". Paste. Retrieved February 26, 2017. They kick off this Carnegie set with a Basie signature piece, "Jumping at the Woodside," named for the hotel where the band was based and where it also rehearsed when it first hit New York City. This driving number, fueled by swinging rhythm section and sparked by the shout choruses from the horn section...
  6. ^ a b Green, Alfred (2015). Rhythm Is My Beat: Jazz Guitar Great Freddie Green and the Count Basie Sound. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 57. ISBN 9781442242463. OCLC 904715782. Another Durham tune, "John's Idea," paid tribute to John Hammond, who was always in attendance during band rehearsals in the basement of the legendary Woodside Hotel in Harlem. This gathering place for black musicians and entertainers became the inspiration for one of Basie's key signature tunes, "Jumpin' at the Woodside." The Count takes credit as author of this tune but because of its multi-influenced beginnings, with a mixture of "Jammin' for the Jackpot" and "I Gotta Swing," both credited to Eli Robinson, it is listed in Chris Sheridan's Count Basie: A Bio-Discography as "head" (collaborative spontaneous arrangement). It was not uncommon in a Basie recording session to create on the spot where collective pooling of riffs and melodies were born without giving thought as to whose composition it was. If more than two writers were involved in the collaboration, it probably got tagged "Basie."
  7. ^ Chilton, Martin (August 21, 2014). "Count Basie: a jazz pioneer who still inspires". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved February 26, 2017. ...soaring majestically on favourites such as Jumpin' at the Woodside, Li'l Darlin' and April in Paris.
  8. ^ Murray, Albert (2011). Rifftide: The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p. 146. ISBN 9780816673001. Jumping, or jumping up and down, was slang for sex. Hence the title of one of Basie's best-known tunes, "Jumpin' at the Woodside," is a triple entendre. It could be jumping as in "the joint is jumping"; or lively, jumping as in dancing; or jumping as in sex. The Woodside Hotel was a favorite spot for dalliances with prostitutes. Jones often recalls the band going up to the Woodside to "buy booty on credit."
  9. ^ Lester, Larry (2001). Black Baseball's National Showcase: The East-West All-Star Game, 1933-1953. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 306. ISBN 9780803280007. OCLC 45951683. Customarily, teams in New York stayed at the Woodside Hotel, a black-owned hotel.
  10. ^ a b Wilson, Sondra K. (February 17, 2004). Meet Me at the Theresa: The Story of Harlem's Most Famous Hotel. New York: Atria Books. p. 63. ISBN 9781451646160. OCLC 869437155.
  11. ^ Robinson, Frazier; Bauer, Paul (1999). Catching Dreams: My Life in the Negro Baseball Leagues. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. p. 131. ISBN 9780585248127. OCLC 45731507. When the Elites went to New York, we stayed at the Woodside Hotel. The Woodside was a famous hotel because that's where a lot of jazz musicians stayed. There was even a song about it called "Jumpin' at the Woodside." It was a favorite of Count Basie's Band....They had a nightclub right there at the Woodside, so you could stay there and go see the show that evening.
  12. ^ Dance, Stanley (1980). The World of Count Basie. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 78. ISBN 9780684166049. OCLC 6331123. (Earle Warren) When we finally got to New York, I moved into the Woodside Hotel, on 142nd Street....There were a lot of ballplayers....The band had stayed there before, when they played the Apollo....There were cooking facilities in some rooms, and a big kitchen where people could cook and take food up to their rooms....it was like a music house, and we rehearsed in the basement.
  13. ^ Marshall, Jack; Krentzlin, Doug; Fuller, Thomas D. The Screamlined Revue! Hellzapoppin (Audience Guide) (PDF). Arlington, VA: The American Century Theater. p. 15. Lastly, and most famously, were Whitey's Steppers, popularly known as "Whitey's Lindy Hoppers." Almost all of the major songs in the original show were accompanied by dance routines, but the Lindy Hop routine (performed to the song "Jumping at the Woodside") was by far the most famous. Astounding in its accuracy and athleticism, it took the audience’s breath away every night. Fortunately, a version of the routine (to different music) is preserved in the otherwise forgettable 1941 film version of Hellzapoppin.
  14. ^ a b Manning, Frankie; Cynthia R. Millman (2007). Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Temple University Press. pp. 162, 172, 176. ISBN 978-1-59213-563-9. OCLC 76261647.
  15. ^ "Hellzapoppin' to "Jumpin' at the Woodside"". YouTube. August 15, 2007. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  16. ^ on Hamp and Getz (1955)
  17. ^ on Monk Montgomery in Africa...Live! (1975)
  18. ^ on Oscar Peterson Plays Count Basie (1955) and Satch and Josh (1974)
  19. ^ on Alix Combelle and his Swing Band (1940)
  20. ^ on Buddy Rich in Miami (1958), Burnin' Beat (1962) and Very Live at Buddy's Place (1974)
  21. ^ recorded on Sing Along with Basie (1958) and Havin' a Ball at the Village Gate (1963)
  22. ^ Barnes, Mike (March 13, 2015). "Gene Patton Dead: 'Gong Show' Dancing Machine Was 82". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 28, 2017. At a random moment during the game show, Barris would introduce Patton, and the curtain would part, bringing the shuffling stagehand with the painter’s cap onstage to the sounds of “Jumpin’ at the Woodside,” a jazz tune made popular by Count Basie. His dance sent everyone on the set — Barris, the judges, the cameramen, the audience — into an uncontrollable boogie.
  23. ^ see Swing Kids soundtrack, track 11
  24. ^ Hyman, Vicki (March 21, 2010). "Frank Sinatra lands on Broadway". NJ.com. Retrieved February 26, 2017. "Come Fly Away" embraces the American song book, including works not primarily associated with Sinatra and even instrumental showcases like Count Basie's "Jumpin' at the Woodside," which concludes the first act.