Jimmy Rushing

Cat Meets Chick

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As the common format for LPs became 12" rather than 10" in the mid-'50s, record companies and artists struggled to come up with ideas for sustained musical performances lasting 30 to 45 minutes. In 1955, Columbia Records producer Irving Townsend put together a selection of pop songs with the singers Felicia Sanders, Peggy King, and Jerry Vale to come up with Girl Meets Boy, and he had a similar concept in the jazz realm for Cat Meets Chick. Borrowing Jimmy Rushing from Vanguard Records and hiring young Ada Moore, who had recently made her Broadway debut in the musical House of Flowers, he put them in front of an orchestra led by Buck Clayton and had them perform a series of songs in which the story line was that Clayton (through the medium of his trumpet) and Rushing were vying for Moore's attention. For example, Moore would say, "Buck, if I choose you, what are you gonna give me?," which would be a cue for Clayton to launch into "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." "Nothin' but love?" Moore would say, "Uh-huh, you got the wrong girl," after which Clayton would play "The Blues." The concept, of course, was just an excuse to have Rushing and Moore sing a bunch of old favorites before Clayton's band, and that was fine, especially because Moore, sporting a Sarah Vaughan-like alto, held her own against the great blues shouter. Of course, the ruling presence, even in his absence, was Count Basie, who had previously employed both Rushing and Clayton for extended periods. The music had much of the verve and swing of the Basie band, even without the leader being on the date. The story might be silly, but the music was not.

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