FLETCHER HENDERSON EXPLAINS & MORE — Camel Caravan Broadcast from the Congress Hotel, Chicago, IL, September 13, 1938

Hi folks —

Since Liltin’ Miss Tilton is pictured here in the background, why not posting two sensational YouTube videos where she can be heard?

Here we go.


Notes by the original uploader KaRidder234

This is a very special broadcast, since it is also kind of an “arranging workshop”, held by Professor Fletcher Henderson, with bandleader Benny Goodman as the – slightly impatient – student.

I hope I got all the words right from the little dialogue between teacher and student:

BG: “Tonight the Camel Caravan spotlight swings to a man who is not a member of the band but who still has one of the most important jobs in it: The arranger. — Tonight as our guest: Fletcher Henderson who’s made some of the best arrangements in our books. — Come on out, Smack!” (Applause.)

“Fletcher, Fletcher, I think a lot of the people would be just interested in knowing how an arrangement comes to be. Let’s take Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies”, that’s one of your best ones, I think. How did you start with that?”

FH: “Oh Benny, of course, the first thing is the melody. Let’s take it just as it’s written; it goes like this …” (Plays piano.) — BG: “Okay, better rescue, we got it. Where do we go from there?”

FH: “Well, that’s Mr. Berlin’s idea, but we wanna make it swingin’. We wanna swing it something like this … (Plays piano.) … but Benny, you can’t do it so well with a piano! Can I borrow the band from you for a few moments?”

BG: “Sure, Smack, they’re all yours!”

FH: “Alright now, first let’s take the brass section. This is what I wrote for the brass… (Trumpet section plays first three bars.) … that’s the part the brass is playing. While they’re doing that – the trumpets – the saxes are there playing something underneath. Benny would you mind, running the saxes through their part alone?” (Benny conducts the saxes for the same three bars).

BG: “Alright, I tell you what, Smack?! May I suppose we put those two together, right now?!” — FH: “Okay, now the brass, and the saxes.” (Brass and saxes play the same three bars together.)

FH: “Well, there’s one other thing we gotta add, though, Benny.” — BG: “You wouldn’t be talking about the rhythm section now, would you Fletcher?”

FH: “That’s it, we got rhythm!” BG: “Alright, here we go.” (Orchestra plays the three bars tutti.) — FH: “Well, there you are; that’s all there is to it. All you gotta do now, is: Play it.” BG: “Alright, counting on!” (Orchestra plays five other bars of the arrangement, and the audience cheers.)

BG: “Wait a minute now, wait a minute, hold on! — Fletcher you told us all about arranging “Blue Skies”. — But, where did that introduction come from? What’s that got to do with “Blue Skies”?

FH: “Oh, Benny, I’m surprised that you ask; that’s the storm!” BG: “That’s the what?” FH: “That’s the storm… (Audience laughs.) …”Blue Skies” from now on!”

Benny laughs, and the orchestra finally plays Fletcher Henderson’s famous arrangement on Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies”. — The rest is as announced.

More about Fletcher Henderson, and his nickname “Smack” can be learned here:


Some V.I.P., meaning: “very important … personnel” 😉

Benny Goodman – cl, Teddy Wilson – p, Lionel Hampton – vib, Dave Tough – d, Harry James – tp & Martha Tilton – voc ∽ ‘Live’ from the Congress Hotel, Chicago, IL, September 13, 1938.

Transferred from Soundcraft LP-1020, Vol. 2

Part 2 can be found here:

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