JAZZ with Tom and Jerry
was a tribute to The Jump & Jive Era of the
Hep or Hip Cats (both terms were used) as portrayed by Louis Jordan's
Is you is or Is you ain't (My Baby)
Louis Jordan was the dean of jump blues in the late 1940s and one of the most
popular rhythm & blues artists of the post-World War II period. Taking a cue
from jazz bandleader Cab Calloway, Jordan was as much a showman as he was a
saxophone player, bandleader, and songwriter. He was blessed with a warm sense
of humor and the ability to reach beyond traditionally imposed racial barriers
in pop music. Throughout his career, Jordan routinely crossed over into the
white record-buying market. He sold millions of records, wrote numerous classic
R&B tunes, and appeared in movies.
Jordan was born in Arkansas and learned the rudiments of the saxophone from his
father, who was the bandleader for the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Jordan attended
Baptist College in Arkansas and majored in music. After a brief fling with the
Rabbit Foot Minstrels, Jordan went north to Philadelphia and played in a variety
of bands until he joined drummer Chick Webb's band in 1936. Jordan stayed with
Webb until the bandleader's death in 1938. He then formed his own band, the
Tympani Five (though the group almost always had more than five members), and
signed a recording contract with Decca Records that lasted into the 1950s.
Jordan recorded a number of successful tunes, including "I'm Gonna Move to the
Outskirts of Town" and "Five Guys Named Moe," before hitting big with "Caldonia",
which was covered by Woody Herman in 1945. Other smashes followed: "Choo Choo
Ch' Boogie," "Saturday Night Fish Fry," "Let the Good Times Roll," and "Is You
Is, or Is You Ain't (Ma Baby)?" Jordan also criss-crossed the country playing
countless one-nighters. Appearances in the films Meet Miss Bobby Socks
and Swing Parade of 1946 exposed Jordan's entertaining talents to even
wider audiences. By the late 1940s Jordan's brand of jump blues had convincingly
made its mark in pop music and Jordan was a major star.
In 1951 Jordan formed a big band, but dissolved it a year later. He ended his
association with Decca in 1953 and signed on with Aladdin, hoping to revive his
now-sagging career. But clearly Jordan's best days as a recording artist were
behind him. Rock & roll was about to become the rage, and rhythm & blues was
beginning its slow but steady slide. Still, Jordan continued to perform and
record. Stints with Mercury in the late '50s and Ray Charles's Tangerine label
in the early '60s kept him and his band working, but produced marginal
recordings. Jordan kept performing in the late '60s, mostly as an oldies act.
Still other records were cut for the French company Black and Blue, and for JSP
in the early '70s. By 1973, Jordan had cut back on his performances and
semi-retired. He died of a heart attack in 1975. Jordan was inducted into the
Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in
Iz You Iz - or Iz You Ain't (Mah Baby)
with Bass Solo The High Pitch is a whisker
borrowed from the Mouse when a string breaks I think.
while wooing the femme feline on the balcony - he plays with his feet.
7.03 minutes 26 Feb 1944
Tom tries to woo his girlfriend with a 'Zoot' suit made from an Awning. However,
Jerry ends up with the suit (after it shrinks in water) and the girl in the end.
This Tom & Jerry cartoon is a must-see for swing dancers. Tom, the cat, wants to
impress a pretty swing vixen. He arrives at her doorstep, presenting a wrapped
up Jerry as a gift. But much to Tom’s dismay, the jitterbug is not too
impressed. Turns out that Tom just isn’t “hep” enough. “Boy, are you corny,” she
scolds him. “You act like a square in the face, a goon from Saskatoon .... you
come on like a broken arm! You are a sad apple, a longhair, a cornhusker! In
other words, you don’t send me. So bail out brother! Get lost! And here’s your
But brave Tom is not easily discouraged by rejection. He hears a radio
advertisement for the latest zoot suit. And soon, he gets “hep to the jive” and
sweeps the girl off her feet by asking her to dance. Swing, of course! If it
weren’t for Jerry (who else!). The vexatious little mouse interferes by setting
Tom’s foot on fire and by dancing with Tom’s girl!
Tom Gets the
Unhip Cat Brush off
Smillin Sam The Zoot Suit Man - Radio Commercial
Gives Tom the solution to his wooing problem. Note the reference to the Zoot
Suit with the Drape Shape and the Reet Pleats - devout oroonie
The Zoot Cat as he makes himself a zoot
suit from a candy stripe awning in order to be hep to the jive, and in Solid Serenade, where he
plays the double bass while singing Is You Is, or Is You Ain't My Baby to
his feline femme fatale.
Tom and Jerry cartoon called "Zoot
Suit Tom". The plot centres around a female jive cat who is attracted to "Hep
Cats". Tom fashions himself a 'Zoot' suit out of a striped awning and then
smashes down a lamp shade to make a "Tando" (wide brim Pork Pie Hat). Lots
of zany parody of the jitterbugging scene.
'Jackson' Finally Gets Hep to the Jive
'Jackson' Sends her with a
Charles Boyer Impersonation to a 'Deep Purple' Toon
But the things get Hot
and Tando Hats
Yes they are still Hep - and out There!
Creole - later exponent of Zoot Style
Briefly, Uncle Sam is shown exhorting you to go swing dancing and then to join
him in one of the centre city's dining establishments for a sandwich and a soft
drink; he reminds you to show respect for age.
Eddie The Editor -
Solid Serenade '46 and the Zoot Cat '44 are fond in my memory
- come on you hep cats - send me your Jazz Cartoon.