Monday, December 13, 2010

"Christmas Night" with Louis Armstrong

Christmas figured prominently in the early career of Raymond Scott (the son of immigrant Jews). He wrote his first hit, "Christmas Night In Harlem," in 1934 at age 25. During Xmas 1936, he debuted his soon-to-be world-famous band live on the Saturday Night Swing Club radio show. Two Christmases later, Paul Whiteman featured the Quintette, accompanied by PW's huge orchestra, performing Scott compositions at Carnegie Hall as part of the long-running Experiments In Modern American Music series where Whiteman had debuted Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue in 1924.

"Christmas Night In Harlem" was recorded as an instrumental in 1939 by Scott's Quintette. With lyrics by legendary Tin Pan Alley wordsmith Mitchell Parish, who co-wrote "Stardust," "Deep Purple," and another Yuletide standard, "Sleigh Ride," the tune was covered by Perry Como, Benny Carter, Johnny MercerBanu Gibson, The Beau Hunks, Clarence Williams, Paul Whiteman, Maria Muldaur, and Jack Teagarden. A new CD, 100 CHRISTMAS, presents Lester Lanin's version alongside classics by Bing Crosby, Willie Nelson, and Roy Orbison.

The most celebrated of all "Harlem" covers, however, is by Louis Armstrong, framed above alongside Scott during a 1938 CBS radio broadcast. Satchmo's recording is perennially reissued on holiday collections, including WHAT A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS.

Download The Metropole Orchestra's version of "Christmas Night In Harlem" from the CHESTERFIELD ARRANGEMENTS album here, as our holiday gift to you. And explore more of the many incarnations of Raymond Scott's earliest hit at or the iTunes Store.


  1. Thanks Jeff! Great to hear that; haven't listened in a very long time!!



  2. I believe that's actually a life-sized wax sculpture of Scott in the top photo.

  3. Irwin:

    That's actually The Scott-Bot 2000.

  4. Was Raymond Scott involved in writing those lyrics? I can't imagine he was. (And yes I know it was a long time ago, I love the original quintet recording (and Armstrong's version).

  5. Brian:

    As I explained in the second paragraph, the lyrics were written by Mitchell Parish.


  6. Whoops, I missed that. I can't believe Metropole decided to revisit those lyrics. That's just an unbelievably short-sighted move on their part.

  7. Brian:

    Not sure why you'd say that. All of The Beau Hunks/Metropole projects are historically accurate.