Bing Bops with Patty and Peg - JazzWax

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January 21, 2011


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Jery Rowan

I got to know Bing when I played in a Seattle band with his younger cousin, George Palmerton, in the ‘60s. Bing would come back to the Pacific Northwest at regular intervals to visit numerous relatives who lived in the area. During those visits he showed a genuine interest in jazz, hanging out at after-hour jams, where bop was a musical mainstay.

One must also remember his younger brother, Bob, was leader of the ‘Bob Cats’, a series of hard swinging Dixieland bands in the ‘40s, ‘50’s and ‘60s. These bands featured such notables as Yank Lawson, Billy Butterfield, Muggsy Spanier, Matty Matlock and Jack Sperling.

So, while I don’t think anyone would mistake Bing for a jazzer or a bopper, he did seem to have a real appreciation for those particular art forms, but probably never pursued them for financial reasons. At least, that’s my take.

Bill Kirchner

To add to Jery Rowan's enlightening comments, I suggest that you listen to Bing's 1928 recording of "From Monday On" (with Paul Whiteman's Rhythm Boys) or the 1932 "St. Louis Blues" (with the Ellington band) before you come to sweeping conclusions about Crosby's jazz singing. He was a bouyant jazz (including scat) singer when he wanted to be. And his admiration of Louis Armstrong was boundless.

As for this statement of yours: "And there's nothing like bebop to separate the at-ease from the uptight." Armstrong was outspokenly opposed to bebop, but no one would ever accuse him of being "uptight". Like every other jazz style, bebop is a stylistic preference--no more, no less.

Ed Leimbacher

Gary Giddins and Mosaic Records folk certainly don't agree with you, Marc. Bing was just whatever and whoever he chose to be, from New Orleans to Hawaii, Mexico to Ireland, Hollywood to some English Cathedral... and the albums he recorded with Armstrong, Clooney, Bob Scobey, and others in the Fifties (not to mention the 78s with various hot players from Whiteman's band and the Boswells and others I'm forgetting) all get pretty damn close to Jazz. What could be better than Bing and Satch goofing in High Society? Now you really has Jazz.


This may be the worst, laziest, least informed caricature of a true jazz artist that I've ever had the displeasure of reading. Pops, Bix, Mildred Bailey and Eddie Lang would testify to Bing's jazz interests easily, as would listening to his Mosaic box, or reading the Giddins bio. I must say that the shortcuts you took regarding Crosby are shocking. "Jazz slumming": really?!!! At the very least, no Bing, no Sinatra, never mind Tony Bennett. Open up your mind and ears: Crosby deserves better.


Thanks, TE. Myers' post is profoundly uninformed and bordering on the ridiculous.

The Mosaic set is indeed a perfect rejoinder to his scribblings.


The "superior and detached tone" was a characteristic of all of Bing's performances and well as his on screen persona (although the man himself was apparently a more complex personality.) Bixophiles know that an appreciation of Bing comes from historical context: If you've been listening to the other singers on those anthologies, Bing's voice is like a balm.

Bill Kirchner

It was for good reason that Artie Shaw called Crosby "the first hip white man in America."

John P. Cooper

Yeah - you're way off in your characterizations.

John P. Cooper

Here's some "jokey lyrics" from the yellow Decca LP cover you used as an illustration. This is a lovely song.

From "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad"
Composed by Don Raye and Gene de Paul

Once you have met that little coquette
You won't forget
But nobody yet has ever upset
That cute coquette Katrina

You can do more with Margaret or Helena
Or Ann or Angelina
But Katrina will kiss and run
To her a romance is fun
With always another one to start

And yet when you've met that little coquette
You've lost your heart

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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