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November 30, 2014
Old Time Blues Baby Elephant Boogie... Henry Mancini Sorcerer's Boogie Give the Kid a Break Sorrowful Blues... Bessie Smith
We all know that Henry Mancini wrote Baby Elephant Walk, and the Baby Elephant Boogie is based on THAT song. However, this is so much more uptempo in comparison that I claim it is a unique arrangement. Besides, I made two glaring performance mistakes that defy logic. The song was only included because those two young men had such a creative and spontaneous "pogo dance" that I had to share the video with everyone on youtube.
Henry Mancini was one of the great composers of the 20th century. Along with Burt Bacarach, The Beatles, Elvis, Irving Berlin, Hank Williams and a few others he defined a new music. Each composition is a type of mathematical proof, where every line contributes to the form of the whole. If the song is a common folk song, it is a proof that we have seen many times before, with perhaps a unique or clever substitution. But original and memorable composers seem to invent an entire new world of music in much the same way as a novel mathematical concept leads to an entirely new branch of mathematics. For me, Henry Mancini is one of these types of composers. His music stands unique and unchallenged defining an entire world that no one else has. Peter Gunn, Baby Elephant Walk and many others have become immortal.
When my father was still alive he started playing Baby Elephant Walk on his electric keyboard. He found an instrument patch that he could make sound like an elephant trumpeting. He got much amusement playing Baby Elephant Walk for people and making his keyboard trumpet like an elephant. When I heard it, I was slightly disappointed that he used the "canned" bass rhythm in the keyboard and not the authentic bass line. So I undertook to learn Baby Elephant Walk. It took me about five years to learn to play the song so that I could improvise a melody without losing the rhythm or tempo of the left hand. Occasionally I can play the song flawlessly, but you will have to take my word for that.
One of the great joys of playing music is seeing children spontaneously and enthusiastically dance to the music with genuine enjoyment and abandon. In my childhood there was no dancing and no singing. There was no joy. We were always well behaved or we got punished. To this day, I cannot sing or dance very well. One of the reasons I love Boogie Woogie music is that it is the happiest music on earth. You cannot listen to Boogie Woogie music without wanting to dance and be happy. It is always a special gift to help others enjoy life and be happy.
Performance by Bill Schaeffer at Sunburst Recording, Culver City. Bob Wayne engineer, July 2001.
My Dad's band played a rousing version of this song that was always a hit. And when Bob the bass player sang "Hi Ho, Hi Ho Silver" over and over while they jammed -- the crowd went wild. Of course, the crowd was usually in the Banquet Hall at the local Restaurant, but the music was great anyway... My father taught me the boogie woogie and I love to play this song.