Cherokee (Ray Noble song)
"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).
The composition has a 64-bar AABA construction. The A-section harmony is straightforward by the standards of 1930s songs, but the B-section is more sophisticated.: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.":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. It was later recorded by Charlie Parker, the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan (1955), Dakota Staton (1958), Art Tatum and Keely Smith. The song has also been covered as an instrumental by Bud Powell (1950), Clifford Brown, Don Byas, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, Harry James, Christian McBride, Chet Atkins, Kamasi Washington on his album The Epic (2015), and by Johnny Smith on his album Moonlight in Vermont.
The difficulty of improvising on the harmony of the B-section meant that many early soloists avoided improvising during it.:84
Appearances in films
The song was used in Jam Session (1944), 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.