Christmas songs #4: Jack Teagarden & Johnny Mercer, Christmas Night In Harlem

December 20, 2012 at 1:04 am (Christmas, Jim D, music, song)

Paul Whiteman’s elephantine orchestra usually contained some good jazz players, even if their role was that of (in Eddie Condon’s phrase), “a jigger of whisky in a pint of milk.”

This 1934 recording features vocals by Jack Teagarden and Johnny Mercer, both extolling the joys of Christmas in “that ol’ colored neighborhood.” These are lyrics that would not be used today (and especially not performed by white vocalists), but were clearly well intentioned at the time, and sung by the pair without the slightest hint of condescention.

Interesting to note, as well, that neither Teagarden nor Mercer were first and foremost vocalists: Mr Tea was best known as a trombonist and Mercer was, of course, a song-writer. Anyway, here they are, with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and ‘Christmas Night In Harlem’:


  1. Kellie said,

    Here’s a post about the song at the Raymond Scott blog:

    Scott composed and first recorded the tune, and the words were written later by Mitchell Parish. At the end of that post you can also get an MP3 of the Metropole Orchestra’s cover of the song, from their album re-recording Paul Whiteman’s arrangements of Raymond Scott tunes, The Chesterfield Arrangements.

    And yes, I have an interest to declare!

  2. Jim Denham said,

    Wonderful stuff, Kellie: thanks for that.

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