Joe Mooney: Tea For Two
Tea For Two
Joe Mooney (accordion, vocals)
Do You Long For Oolong? (Hep 63)
Joe Mooney (accordion, vocals),
Andy Fitzgerald (clarinet), Jack Hotop (guitar), John “Gate” Frega (bass).
Composed by Irving Caesar & Vincent Youmans; additional lyrics and arrangement by Joe Mooney.
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
In September 1946, composer and critic Alec Wilder proclaimed in Downbeat that the Joe Mooney Quartet was one of the finest small groups in the history of jazz. Mooney built this intimate quartet after successfully translating the advanced harmonies of bebop to the accordion(!) A stylish, hip songwriter in his own right, Mooney loved creating humorous parodies of standard pop songs, as in this winning update of “Tea For Two”. While the opening chorus delights with lines like Do you long for oolong like I like for oolong, baby? the final chorus updates the story nearly 40 years in the future: Flash! 1983; See! Chick still on his knee .For all of its obvious values, the quartet may have been too intimate for its own good. Existing far before the days of jazz concerts, the understated style of the group couldn’t compete with the rowdy clientele of the average nightclub. Within three years, the quartet was no more.
For Mooney, it was another in a series of failures to catch the public’s attention. He had toured with his brother Dan as “The Sunshine Boys” in the early 1930s (the name was ironic since both brothers were blind). After the quartet’s demise, Joe switched his primary instrument from accordion to Hammond organ. He made recordings in 1952 (both on his own and with the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra), then full LPs in 1957 and 1963-1964. Although he performed in New York nightclubs as a result of these recordings, he was never able to generate enough popularity to keep him in the Big Apple. When work dried up for him in New York, he retreated to his home in Florida where his local fans provided the loyal following that had eluded him up north.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe