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Cherokee (Indian Love Song) (1938)

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Origin and Chart Information
“Although it was a hit for the Charlie Barnet Orchestra, ‘Cherokee’ wasn’t really considered a vehicle for jazz improvisation until Charlie Parker’s arrival in New York in the early 1940’s.”

- Chris Tyle

AKAIndian Love Song
Rank 39
Words and Music Ray Noble

British bandleader Ray Noble wrote and introduced “Cherokee” as the first of five movements for “Indian Suite” (Cherokee, Comanche War Dance, Iroquois, Seminole, and Sioux Sue). The following year trumpeter and arranger Billy May created a hit instrumental arrangement of “Cherokee” for Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra. The tune would rise to number fifteen on the pop charts.

An extension of “Cherokee” titled “Redskin Rhumba” subsequently became Barnet’s theme song. According to Don Kennedy, host of the Big Band Jump radio show,

It was, of course, based on the plunger-muted trombones, but the “melody” was simply Barnet’s ad-lib tenor sax noodlings. That way, he told me, it could be expanded or contracted to fit any situation in a “live” remote.

“Redskin Rhumba” is credited to Dale Bennett, a pseudonym for Charlie Barnet.

“Indian Suite” may be heard in its entirety on Ray Noble & His American Orchestra Centenary Issue: 26 Original Mono Recordings 1935-1947 2004 Asv Living Era.


More on Ray Noble at JazzBiographies.com

“Cherokee” was not Ray Noble’s first hit song. He had written the words and music to “Love Is the Sweetest Thing” (1932), “The Very Thought of You” (1934), “The Touch of Your Lips” (1936) and “I Hadn’t Anyone Till You” (1938). The first two songs were number one hits on the pop charts.


Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

More information on this tune...

George T. Simon
Big Bands Songbook
Barnes & Noble

(Author/drummer Simon devotes four pages to the songwriter and the performers and includes the sheet music.)

- Jeremy Wilson

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