Rudolf Ising (1931)

Piggy takes his girlfriend, Fluffy, to a jazz concert.

You Don’t Know What You’re Doin’! is a 1931 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon short directed by Rudolf Ising. The short was released on October 21, 1931, and stars Piggy, one of the series’ early recurring characters. First released on October 21, 1931, the film is perhaps one of the most amusing and effective of the cartoons from the studio’s earliest years.

The musical soundtrack was done by the then-nationally famous Abe Lyman Orchestra, which adds a happy energy throughout the cartoon. The eccentric virtuoso trombone playing of Orlando “Slim” Martin is prominently featured. Martin played not only music but also some rather bizarre effects on his horn. His trombone solo representing the drunken automobile is especially memorable. The Schlesinger Studio had their sound effects department construct mechanical devices to roughly reproduce some of Martin’s sounds, which became standard cartoon sound effects.

Jon Batiste (2021)

I decided to post this video just for the simple fact that Jon Batiste is one of the most animated characters I can think of. That, and we could all use a little FREEDOM!

Check out Jon Batiste on his website at https://www.jonbatiste.com/

New Orleans musician Jon Batiste just released his new song FREEDOM, and his video makes the streets of New Orleans sing.

Batiste, clad in a pink suit, gets New Orleans community members on their feet, singing and dancing throughout Treme, the Seventh Ward, City Park and under the Claiborne Expressway.

The St. Augustine Marching 100 were also prominently featured, which is where Batiste went to school.

Batiste’s music company tweeted the link to the music video Friday, calling it a “tribute to New Orleans.”

Batiste describes the song FREEDOM as “like an old movie,” comparing the likeness of the video’s movements to James Brown and Elvis.

“If you think about movies back in the day, you wouldn’t show a black man with a white woman, or you wouldn’t show a black relationship, or you wouldn’t show a woman in a certain role. That is our sexuality and how people are represented. That’s what people like James Brown, or when we saw Elvis with the twist in the hips, did. They were unlocking something in people that they were trying to hold in. These people became beacons of freedom, and you look at the way they move and the way that they express who they are onstage. That becomes the way that you want to be in life.”

Jon Batiste

When I move my body just like this
I don’t know why
But I feel like freedom (Freedom)
I hear a song that takes me back
And I let go with so much freedom (Freedom)
Free to live (how I wanna live)
I’m gon get (what i’m gonna get)
‘Cause it’s my freedom (Freedom)

I love how you talk
You speaking my language
The way that you walk
You can’t contain it
Is it the shoes
Jumped up, kangaroo
We’re overdue for a little more prancing

Now it’s your time
(It’s your right)
You can shine
(It’s alright)
If you do
I’ma do too

When I move my body just like this
I don’t know why
But I feel like freedom (Freedom)
I hear a song that takes me back
And I let go
With so much freedom (Freedom)
Free to live (How I wanna live)
I’m gon get (What I’m gonna get)
‘Cause it’s my freedom (Freedom)

The reason we get down, is to get back up
If someones around, Go on let them look
You can’t stand still
This ain’t no drill
More than cheap thrills, (Feels like money money money)

Now it’s your time
(It’s your right)
You can shine
(It’s alright)
If you do
I’ma do too

‘Cause when I look up to the stars (Stars)
I know exactly who we are (Ooh)
‘Cause then I see you shinin’
You shinin’
You shinin’ oh!

Free to be!
(Everybody come on) (Freedom!)
(Everybody come ‘round)
(Everybody come on)
(Everybody hit the floor)
Come on now!

I’m stuck to the dance floor
With the, with the whole tape
With the, with the, with the whole tape
(Let me see you wobble)
I’m stuck to the dance floor
With the, with the whole tape
With the, with the, with the whole tape
(Let me see you shake)
Give you just what you ask forgivin’ you the whole shake
I’ma give you the whole shake
(Let me see you wobble)
I’m stuck to the dance floor
With the, with the whole tape
With the, with the, with the whole tape
(Can you make it break?)

I say yeah (Yeah)
Oh yeah (Oh yeah)
(Let me see you wobble)
‘Cause, you do
I’ma do too

When I move my body just like this
I don’t know why
But I feel like freedom (Freedom)
I hear a song that takes me back
And I let go
With so much freedom (Freedom)
Free to live (How I wanna live)
I’m gon get (What I’m gonna get)
‘Cause it’s my freedom (Freedom)

FREEDOM is one of the songs on Jon Batiste’s new album We Are.

Gary K. Wolf & Richard Williams (1988)

“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”

-Jessica Rabbit

Jessica Rabbit is a fictional character in Who Censored Roger Rabbit? and its film adaptation Who Framed Roger Rabbit? She is depicted as Roger’s human toon wife. Jessica is renowned as one of the best-known sex symbols in animation.

Author Gary K. Wolf based Jessica primarily on the cartoon character Red from Tex Avery’s Red Hot Riding Hood. The film version of the character was inspired by various actresses. Richard Williams explained, “I tried to make her like Rita Hayworth; we took her hair from Veronica Lake, and Zemeckis kept saying, ‘What about the look Lauren Bacall had?'” He described that combination as an “ultimate male fantasy, drawn by a cartoonist.”

The song Why Don’t You Do Right? is an American blues and jazz-influenced pop song written by “Kansas Joe” McCoy and Herb Morand in 1936. Both men are given composer credits on the original 78 record label, although Morand’s name is misspelled. A minor key twelve-bar blues with a few chord substitutions, it is considered a classic “woman’s blues” song and has become a standard.

In 1936, the Harlem Hamfats recorded Why Don’t You Do Right? Band member McCoy later rewrote the song, refining the composition and lyrics. The new tune was recorded by Lil Green in 1941, with guitar by William “Big Bill” Broonzy. The recording was an early jazz and blues hit.

The song has its roots in blues music and originally dealt with a marijuana smoker reminiscing about lost financial opportunities. As it was rewritten, it takes on the perspective of the female partner, who chastises her man for his irresponsible ways: “Why don’t you do right, like some other men do? Get out of here and get me some money too.”

One of the best-known versions of the song was recorded by Peggy Lee and Benny Goodman on July 27, 1942, in New York. Featured in the 1943 film, Stage Door Canteen, it sold over one million copies and brought her to nationwide attention.

Lee often stated that Green’s recording was influential to her music. In a 1971 interview she said, “I had the record, and I used to play it over and over in my dressing room, which was next to Benny Goodman. Finally he said, ‘I think you really like that song.’ I said, ‘Oh, I love it.’ He said, ‘Would you like to sing it?'” Lee said yes, so Goodman had an arrangement made of it for Lee to sing.

In 1988 Why Don’t You Do Right? was sung by Jessica Rabbit in a very provocative way.

Hugh Harman & Rudolf Ising (1930)

Congo Jazz is a Looney Tunes cartoon starring Warner Bros.’ first cartoon star, Bosko. The cartoon was released in September 1930. It was distributed by Warner Bros. and The Vitaphone Corporation. Congo Jazz was the first cartoon to feature Bosko’s falsetto voice that he would use for the bulk of the series’ run. It has the earliest instance of a “trombone gobble” in animation.

In 1927, Harman and Ising were still working for the Walt Disney Studios on a series of live-action/animated short subjects known as the Alice Comedies. The two animators created Bosko in 1927 to capitalize on the new “talkie” craze that was sweeping the motion picture industry. They began thinking about making a sound cartoon with Bosko in 1927, before even leaving Walt Disney. Hugh Harman made drawings of the new character and registered it with the copyright office on 3 January 1928.

After leaving Walt Disney in early 1928, Harman and Ising went to work for Charles Mintz on Universal’s second-season Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons. April 1929 found them moving on again, leaving Universal to market their new cartoon character. In May 1929, they produced a short pilot cartoon, similar to Max Fleischer’s Out of the Inkwell cartoons, Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid that showcased their ability to animate soundtrack-synchronized speech and dancing. The short, plotless cartoon opens with live action footage of Ising at a drafting table. After he draws Bosko on the page, the character springs to life, talks, sings, and dances. Ising returns Bosko to the inkwell, and the short ends. This short is a landmark in animation history as being the first cartoon to predominantly feature synchronized speech, though Fleischer Studios’ Song Car-Tune My Old Kentucky Home was the first cartoon to contain animated dialogue a few years earlier. This cartoon set Harman and Ising “apart from early Disney sound cartoons because it emphasized not music but dialogue.” The short was marketed to various people by Harman and Ising until Leon Schlesinger offered them a contract to produce a series of cartoons for the Warner Bros. It would not be seen by a wide audience until 71 years later, in 2000, as part of Cartoon Network’s special Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons, a compilation special of rare material from the WB/Turner archives.

In his book, Of Mice and Magic, Leonard Maltin states that this early version of Bosko:

“was in fact a cartoonized version of a young black boy… he spoke in a Southern Negro dialect… in subsequent films this characterization was eschewed, or perhaps forgotten. This could be called sloppiness on the part of Harman and Ising, but it also indicates the uncertain nature of the character itself.”

by Irving Berlin (1912)

Fleischer Studios (1926)

You can sing along with the bouncing ball and Fleischer animation depicting passengers boarding a train, including one late arrival who, magically, opens the conductor as if he were a door! Learn more about Max and Dave Fleischer, Fleischer Studios, and the early days of animation at http://www.fleischerstudios.com/

“Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American music”

— Jerome Kern

in 1911, Berlin hit upon the musical composition that catapulted him into legend:  “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”  A jaunty tip of the hat to the ragtime craze (although not technically of the ragtime genre) the song reached the larger public in several stages: first as a vaudeville number premiered in Chicago by Emma Carus; then as a performance by Berlin at the Friars Frolic of 1911; then increasingly “covered” by performers in vaudeville and early gramophone recordings. It set a new record by becoming the fastest selling song of its time, moving a million copies of sheet music within four months; by 1912, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” had sold over two million copies of sheet music and subsequently a million more.   It was the most ubiquitous song of its era and had become a cornerstone of the music publishing industry.

Read more about Irving Berlin here: https://www.irvingberlin.com/early-career-and-tin-pan-alley

Walter Lantz (1941)

Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat is a 1941 popular boogie-woogie song written by Don Raye. A bawdy, jazzy tune, the song describes a laundry woman from Harlem, New York whose technique is so unusual that people come from all around just to watch her scrub. The Andrews Sisters and Will Bradley & His Orchestra recorded the most successful pop versions of the song.

The animated short was released on March 28, 1941 by Universal Pictures and features no director credit. However, Woody Woodpecker creator Walter Lantz claims to have directed the cartoon himself. The story was written by Ben Hardaway, animation by Alex Lovy and Frank Tipper, and voiceover work by Mel Blanc and Nellie Lutcher. The short uses blackface stereotypes of African-American people and culture, and of life in the rural Southern United States.

The Scrub Me Mama short is today in the public domain.

Fleischer Brothers (1930)

Swing You Sinners! is a 1930 animated cartoon short, directed by the Fleischer Brothers as part of the Talkartoons. The cartoon is notable for its surreal, dark and sometimes even abstract content.

Let’s join Bimbo as he is chased by a policeman for trying to steal a chicken!

The cartoon was released on September 24, 1930 in the Talkartoons series and was animated by Ted Sears and Willard Bowsky. George Cannata, Shamus Culhane, Al Eugster, William Henning, Seymour Kneitel, and Grim Natwick also worked on it, but are uncredited in the title card. The cartoon was animated by a completely new staff who’d never worked in animation before because the studio had to replace some animators who quit. Animator Shamus Culhane states in his memoirs that though he created and animated what might be construed as a racist caricature of “a Jew with a black beard, huge nose, and a derby,” the studio’s atmosphere and its mixed ethnic crew made the depiction completely acceptable to all the Jews in the studio. The caricature in question is a reference to Jewish-American comedian Monroe Silver.

Motion Picture News wrote on October 11, 1930, “The clever cartoon pen of Max Fleischer again demonstrates itself in this Talkartoon. An off-stage chorus sings the lyrics to the rhythm of the action and the result is usually diverting. The cartoon hero is this time taken into a grave-yard with the absurd results that you might well imagine. Worth a play.”

The soundtrack was composed by W. Franke Harling, with lyrics by Sam Coslow. Title song was based on “Sing, You Sinners!”, some of which is played in the titles of the cartoon.

Patrick Smith (1968)

“I feel more alive now than I ever have in my life. I have a chance to live, as I’ve dreamed.” – Nina Simone in July, 1968

Hear bonus interview outtakes, celebrate Nina’s style and impact on music and the civil rights movement here: http://blankonblank.org/nina-simone​

Lilian Terry had a national radio show in Italy–everyone from Ray Charles to Duke Ellington appeared on her show–and there was one person she always wanted to interview: Nina Simone.

But Lilian had heard Nina didn’t enjoy speaking with white people. Thankfully Lillian had a confidant in Max Roach, the legendary jazz drummer, who introduced Lilian to Nina at the Newport Festival in 1968.

“Lilian Terry comes from Egypt, ” Roach said. This was was true; Lilian was born in Cairo to a father from Malta and a mother from Italy.

With that simple introduction, Nina waved Lillian over. Soon they were talking about nefertitti and the pharoahs.

Nina even told Lilian she thought she’d been in Egypt in a previous life.

A few days later Lilian went to Nina’s house in Mt. Vernon, New York. They sat by the pool, the tape recorder was turned on, and the conversation continued.

Executive Producer: David Gerlach / Animator: Patrick Smith / Audio Producer: Amy Drozdowska / Colorist: Jennifer Yoo

Len Lye (1933)

Experimental animation.

Despite the interest generated by his first film, Tusalava (1929), the early 1930s were a difficult time for artist and animator Len Lye. A series of projects were abandoned through lack of funding, and he supported himself by designing book jackets. By 1934 he was doing relatively menial work in the Wembley studios of Associated Sound Film Industries, while trying to convince investors to back his latest project with his long-time friend and collaborator, Jack Ellitt, provisionally titled Quicksilver. Lye had already produced dozens of set and costume designs for this ambitious science-fiction musical comedy but, although an American producer eventually expressed interest, the film that emerged bore little relation to the original concept, and neither Lye nor Ellitt benefited financially.

In the meantime, Lye turned his attention to puppet animation. He scraped together enough funding and borrowed equipment to produce a three-minute short featuring his self-made monkey, singing and dancing to ‘Peanut Vendor’, a 1931 jazz hit for Red Nichols. The two foot high monkey had bolted, moveable joints and some 50 interchangeable mouths to convey the singing. To get the movements right, Lye filmed his new wife, Jane, a prize-winning rumba dancer. Ellitt assisted in synchronizing the animation with the music.

Lye hoped to use the film to interest advertisers, but again had no success. However, on the strength of the film the head of the newly established Shell Film Unit, Jack Beddington, was later persuaded by Lye’s friend Humphrey Jennings to commission Lye to make a short animated advertising film, The Birth of the Robot (1935).

Jim Henson (1961)

Drums West is a cut-paper animated film produced by Jim Henson. The film was created in Henson’s home studio in Bethesda, MD around 1961. It is one of several experimental shorts inspired by the music of jazz musician Chico Hamilton.

The film was recently rediscovered by the Henson Archives and released in 2013 on the Henson Company’s YouTube channel. At the end, in footage probably shot by Jerry Juhl, Henson demonstrates his working method.

Judging by behind-the-scenes footage of a beardless Jim Henson animating “Drums West,” a 1961 homage to jazz drummer Chico Hamilton, one good sneeze and the party would’ve been over.

Animation is always a painstaking proposition, but the hundreds of tiny paper scraps Henson was contending with in an extremely cramped working space seem downright oppressive compared to the expansive visuals to which they gave rise.

Ralph Bakshi (1989)

THIS Ain’t BeBop is Ralph Bakshi’s first live-action short, starring Harvey Keitel and featuring Ron Thompson (Tony & Pete of American Pop) as the beatnik poet and Rick Singer (Benny of American Pop) as Jackson Pollock.

Mark Bakshi produced the film; his first professional collaboration with his father. Ralph Bakshi wrote a poem influenced by Jack Kerouac, jazz, the Beat Generation and Brooklyn that served as the narration, which was spoken by Harvey Keitel.

After a car crash, Bakshi completed the post-production in stitches and casts. Bakshi said of the work, “It’s the most proud I’ve been of a picture since Coonskin — the last real thing I did with total integrity.”