Cherokee (Ray Noble song)

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Published 1938
Writer Ray Noble
Lyricist Ray Noble
Language English
Recorded by Charlie Parker, Charlie Barnet, the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Keely Smith
For other uses of the term Cherokee, see Cherokee (disambiguation).

"Cherokee" (also known as "Cherokee (Indian Love Song)") is a jazz standard written by Ray Noble and published in 1938. It was originally intended as the first of five movements for an "Indian Suite" (Cherokee, Comanche War Dance, Iroquois, Seminole, and Sioux Sue).[1]


The composition has a 64-bar AABA construction.[1] The A-section harmony is straightforward by the standards of 1930s songs, but the B-section is more sophisticated.[2]:84 This is because "It cadences (via ii-7–V7–I progressions) into the keys of B Major, A Major and G Major before moving toward the B♭ tonic."[2]:85


"Cherokee" has been recorded over the years by many jazz musicians and singers. Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra's 1939 version reached No. 15 on the pop charts.[1] It was later recorded by Charlie Parker, the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan (1955), Art Tatum and Keely Smith.[1] The song has also been covered as an instrumental by Bud Powell (1950),[1] Clifford Brown,[1] Don Byas, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton and by Johnny Smith on his album Moonlight in Vermont.[3]

The difficulty of improvising on the harmony of the B-section meant that many early soloists avoided improvising during it.[2]:84


Parker used this song for the basis of his 1945 composition "Ko-Ko".[1] It also formed the basis of Buddy DeFranco "Swinging the Indian".[1]

Appearances in films[edit]

The song was used in Jasper in a Jam (1946), sung by Peggy Lee, The Gene Krupa Story (1959), and as background music in Racing with the Moon (1984) and Lush Life (1993), a TV movie starring Jeff Goldblum and Kathy Baker.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wilson, Jeremy. "Cherokee (Indian Love Song)". Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Woideck, Carl (1998) "Charlie Parker: His Music and Life". University of Michigan Press.
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Moonlight in Vermont". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 September 2011.