I've Found A New Baby

I've Found A New Baby was composed by the songwriting team of Jack Palmer and Spencer Williams. The latter is best known for his work with Fats Waller and credited with many other songs that have become jazz standards. This one was (as best I can tell) first recorded in 1926 by an outfit led by another Williams (no relation), Clarence Williams' Blue Five. That's Williams shown right. His Blue Five was a constellation of musicians that must have had some serious gravitational pull; at various times it included the heaviest of the heavies of early jazz, folks like Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet and Coleman Hawkins. Follow the Blue Five link above and scroll down the page for a listen to two very different back to back takes on the tune. Another heavywieght of that era was Fletcher Henderson, and his orchestra also recorded the song. Here's a clip of that performance from The Harmony & Vocalion Sessions Volume 1 1925-1926.

Audio Clip: Fletcher Henderson on I've Found A New Baby


Eight years later a Mills Brothers recording of the song rose to number nineteen on the pop charts. The Mills Brothers were one of the longest-lasting acts of 20th century popular music, a run that began in 1924 and wound down in the 1980's, highlighted by number 1 hits in the 30's, 40's and 50's. Their trademark is alluded to in the notice that accompanied their records in the early years: "No musical instruments or mechanical devices used on this recording other than one guitar." You'll hear why that advisory was necessary in this audio clip.

Audio Clip: Mills Brothers 1934 take on I've Found A New Baby


The following year, the great French Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt recorded the song with his best known sideman, Stephane Grappelli, on violin. That's Stephane kicking things off on the audio clip that follows. Notice that by 1935 the tune was already so well known that even in his opening statement Steph only makes passing reference to the melody proper. Although we are not tackling the demanding task of learning how to play la pompe in a truly legit manner, notice the similarities between our strumming style and what you hear on this recording. If we can capture half the bounce and ebullience of this rhythm section, we're stompin'. One last thing to note as you listen: unlike the progression we are using, most performances of this song include a D7 in the fourth measure of the A section (whereas we are staying on Dm); you can hear that transition very clearly in this recording.

Audio Clip: Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli on I've Found A New Baby, 1935

Having mentioned that D7, I hasten to justify our chord progression by reference to our next audio clip, one that features another pioneer of the jazz guitar, Charlie Christian. Recorded in December of 1940 and released the following year, this performance by the Benny Goodman Sextet features Christian at the height of his form on electric guitar. This solo has been transcribed and studied by countless students of jazz guitar over the decades since, so if you're in the market for a tutorial on what to do with the archtop you're hoping someone will bequeath you, here ya go. I'd always recommend you do the transcribing yourself (with the help of a digital slow-downer of some sort) but if you are inclined toward short cuts, I think you'll find a transcription of the solo in standard notation in this free ebook.

Audio Clip: Benny and Charlie on I've Found A New Baby

Just a few years later — this recording is from a 1945-'46 collection — Spade Cooley gave our tune the Western Swing treatment: twin guitars, string section, pedal steel, accordion, the whole enchilada. Cooley was the self-proclaimed King of Western Swing and whether you swear your oath of allegiance to him or some other pretender to the throne (say, Bob Wills), he was at the top of his game during that era, surrounded by great talent. See if this doesn't make you want to scoot your boots.

Audio Clip: Spade Cooley performs I've Found A New Baby