The Harvard Blues: A Note on Jazz and Ivy League Style
George Frazier III was a legend in his time (1911 – 1974). He was a first-class journalist – with columns in Esquire, The Boston Globe, and Down Beat —, a man of great style, and a lover of sports, literature, and jazz. He is said to have befriended many jazz musicians when they were down on their luck.
A graduate of Harvard, he once wrote some song lyrics he called “Harvard Blues”, and got his friend Count Basie to set them to music. This was in 1941, and the song was recorded by the Count Basie band, with the help of jazz impresario John Hammond at Columbia Records. Actually Basie recorded the song again in 1944, both times the lyrics were sung by the great blues shouter Jimmy Rushing. The first stanza goes:
I wear Brooks clothes and white shoes all the time,
I wear Brooks clothes and white shoes all the time.
Get three “C”’s, a “D”, and think checks from home sublime.
Brooks Brothers clothes and white shoes, known as “white bucks”, were standard wardrobe on college campuses then. Frazier was a particular aficionado of the Brooks Brothers button down shirt with its gentle roll of affected nonchalance. Not coincidentally, Frazier was also a friend of Charlie Davidson, founder of The Andover Shop at Harvard, the quintessential campus shop. Davidson dressed many of the great jazz musicians who went on the become stars at The Newport Jazz Festival such as Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, and the members of the Modern Jazz Quartet.
All images courtesy of www.ivy-style.com
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