Flying Home

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"Flying Home"
Music by Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Eddie DeLange
Lyrics by Sid Robin
Form 32-bar AABA jazz composition
Recorded by Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald

"Flying Home" is a 32-bar AABA jazz composition most often associated with Lionel Hampton, written by Benny Goodman, Eddie DeLange, and Hampton, with lyrics by Sid Robin.[1]

It was reportedly developed around a tune Hampton whistled as he nervously waited for his first flight on an aircraft.[2] It was first recorded by the Benny Goodman Sextet on November 6, 1939 featuring solos by Hampton and Charlie Christian. Several other groups subsequently recorded the tune; however, the most famous version is a lively 1942 recording by Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra, featuring a tenor sax solo by Illinois Jacquet.

Singer Chris Connor recorded a vocal version of the song for Atlantic Records and released it as a single in 1959 (ATL-2017).

In 1979, Ella Fitzgerald recorded a seven-minute-plus rendering that can be found on the Pablo release Digital III at Montreux while an earlier Ella version (with Vic Schoen and his Orchestra) is included on the Decca release Lullabies of Birdland.

Illinois Jacquet solo[edit]

In 1942, at age 18, Jacquet soloed on the Hampton Orchestra version, one of the very first times a honking tenor sax was heard on record.[citation needed] The record became a hit. It was a jazz classic, as well as what can be considered one of the first rock and roll records. The song immediately became the climax for the live shows and Jacquet became exhausted from having to "bring down the house" every night. The solo was built to weave in and out of the arrangement and continued to be played by every saxophone player who followed Jacquet in the band, notably Arnett Cobb and Dexter Gordon, who achieved almost as much fame as Jacquet in playing it.

It is one of the very few jazz solos to have been memorized and have been played very much the same way by everyone who played the song.[citation needed] The solo helped influence and define the honking and wailing style of saxophone playing that became a feature of early Rhythm and Blues music.

Recognition[edit]

"Flying Home" is mentioned in the Autobiography of Malcolm X[2] and in 1996 it won a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. It is featured (together with a Lindy hop dance arrangement) in the film Malcolm X.

Ralph Ellison named a short story, "Flying Home" (1944) after the song, which eventually became the title of a posthumous collection of his short stories.

Flying Home is the title of a 1978 novel by Morris Lurie. Lurie uses references to jazz in his stories.

Appearances in film[3][edit]

References[edit]