Monday, October 21, 2013

McKinney's Cotton Pickers - Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble" (information & example)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a three part series of examples of the early
Jazz tune "Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble". That tune is also known as "Shimmy She Wobble".

This post provides information about the "shimmy" and about the 1917 instrumental "Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble". Part I also showcases a 1928 recording of "Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble" by the African American Jazz band McKinney's Cotton Pickers.

Click for Part II of this series.

Part II of this series showcases a recording of this tune by Sidney Bechet.

Click for Part III of this series. Part III showcases a 1978 rendition of this tune by Otha Turner & The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band, and a contemporary performance of this tune by The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band.

The content of this post is presented for historical, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"A shimmy is a dance move in which the body is held still, except for the shoulders, which are alternated back and forth. When the right shoulder goes back, the left one comes forward. It may help to hold the arms out slightly bent at the elbow, and when the shoulders are moved, keep the hands in the same position.

In 1917, a dance-song titled "Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble" by Spencer Williams was published, as was "The Jazz Dance, which included the "Shimmy-She", among others.

Flappers often performed the dance in the 1920s. The origin of the name is often attributed to Gilda Gray, a Polish emigrant to America. An anecdote says that when she was asked about her dancing style, she answered, in heavy accent, "I'm shaking my chemise". However, in an interview Gilda denied having said this, and earlier usages of the word are recorded. In the late 1910s others were also attributed as being the "inventor" of the shimmy, including Bee Palmer. Mae West, in her autobiography Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It, claimed to have retitled the "Shimmy-Shawobble" as the Shimmy herself, after seeing the moves in some black nightclubs."
This Wikipedia excerpt is re-formatted by me to increase its readability and to highlight the sentence about the Shimmy She Wabble" tune.
-snip- indicates that "Spencer Williams (1889-1965) was one of the earliest black composers to shape jazz as popular music."

Here's more information about the tune "Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble" from,58 "Othar Turner, Cane Fife Maker" by
William Ferris

"Then I start the drums to playing and the cane fifes to blowing. We play "Shimmy She Wobble,"8 "My Baby Don't Stand No Cheating On Her."9 "Granny, Will Your Dog Bite?" "Rolling and Tumbling,"10 "Glory Hallelujah,1111 "When the Saints Go Marching In." We play all stuff like that you know"...

Note from that article:
"Shimmie-She-Wobble" refers to a group of freely improvised songs named after the popular dance of the 1920s. It was recorded in 1928 on Victor by McKinney's Cotton Pickers with the title "Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble" and can be heard by Turner's band on Travelling Through the Jungle."
In the context of this conversation, "making monkey shine" and "cuttin up" mean to "fool around with" the music, playing just for enjoyment and not for serious intent.

Click for a pancocojams post on the American colloquial expressions "cutting monkeyshine" & "cutting shine".

McKinney's Cotton Pickers - SHIM-ME-SHA-WABBLE (1928)


bsgs98, Uploaded on Apr 22, 2009

McKinney's Cotton Pickers, Directed by Don Redman
Composed by Spencer Williams
Recorded July 12, 1928

Don Redman, George Thomas, James Dudley - Alto saxes
Prince Robinson - tenor sax and clarinet
John Nesbitt, Langston Curl - trumpets
Claude Jones - trombone
Todd Rhodes - piano
David Wilbourn - banjo
Ralph Escudaro - tuba
Cuba Austin - drums

This tune was a standard in the band's library. Don wrote the arrangement on a front porch on Frederick Street in Detroit, opposite a tennis court. Don said that watching the tennis game was relaxing as he worked on this fine old New Orleans stomp tune. The give and take of instruments and the forceful ensemble, bring out all the exuberance of the old tune. Redman himself has a natural joyous way of playing and expresses it here on both baritone and alto saxes.
Italics added to highlight those words. "Stomp" here "dance".

Click's_Cotton_Pickers for information about the African American early jazz band The McKinney Cotton Pickers. An excerpt of that article indicates that "Between 1927 and 1931, they were one of the most popular African-American bands. Many of their records for Victor were bestsellers. "

My thanks to McKinney's Cotton Pickers for their musical legacy. Thanks also to the publisher of this video on YouTube. My thanks to the all those who are quoted in this post.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the title of the 1917 tune "Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble" was influenced by the 1912 hit British music song "They All Walk The Wibbly Wobbly Walk".

    I also wonder if the title of the 1998 American song "Wobble" which is probably most widely known as a line dance was influenced by the "Shimmy Sha Wobble" title of the 1917 early Jazz song " Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble".

    According to Google search, R&B singer Kelly Rowland has recorded a song entitled "Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble". However, to date, I've not been able to find the words to that song nor have I found a video of that song.

    WARNING: There's a Hip Hop song with "wooble" in its title. However, I believe that that song's lyrics aren't suitable for children.