It's All Right, Baby

Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson

date: 1938
style: boogie-woogie
form: 12-bar blues

personnel:

"Big Joe" Turner, voice; Pete Johnson, piano, live at the From Spirituals to Swing concert.

What to Listen For:

Chorus One (12-bar blues)

0:00
The piano begins the first chorus with a dramatic series of repeated chords

0:05
sung:
"Well, it's all…..right…..then!"

The bass ostinato enters when the harmony arrives on IV. After singing one phrase, Turner adds an additional rhythmic layer by tapping his feet.

0:09
spoken: "Yeah, papa"

Chorus Two

0:15
"That's all right, baby, that's all right for you"

Turner sings his first chorus. The piano's left hand continues the ostinato, while the right hand retreats to simpler lower-register chords. Each time Turner sings the phrase, it is slightly different in rhythm: on the off-beat for the first phrase, on the downbeat for the second

Chorus Three

0:29
"Well, you're so beautiful, but you've got to die someday"

Turner and Johnson use the same texture as in the previous chorus

0:29

Chorus Four

0:44
"Baby, what's the matter now?"

Behind Turner's vocal, the pianist begins playing short riffs

Chorus Five

0:59
"Roll 'em, boy…let 'em jump for joy"

Turner's vocal begins ahead of the bar line. Urged on by the lyrics, Johnson plays a familiar boogie-woogie riff before launching into continuous eighth notes.

1:12
spoken:
"Ah, pick it, papa!"

Chorus Six

1:14
The piano takes over, spurred on by a strong backbeat coming from Turner's foot stomp and hand clap. The piano's is based on another simple riff figure.

1:16
spoken
"Yeah, yeah!"

1:24
spoken
"Way down, way down!"

Chorus Seven

1:28
The piano suddenly moves to the highest register, playing a series of repeated notes.

1:35
As Johnson returns to the middle register, Turner emits a loud chuckle of appreciation.

1:39
spoken
"Solid, pops, solid!"

Chorus Eight

1:43
"Yes, yes!"

Turner sings his simple phrase as the call, followed by the response in the piano.

1:45
The interchanges between Turner and Johnson are similar in tone, but subtly different in pitch and rhythm.

Chorus Nine

1:58
"Well all right, then!"

Turner sings a new phrase, answered by a tremolo in the piano.

Chorus Ten

2:12
"Bye………bye!"

Turner stretches out his two-note phrase into an expressive arc that covers several measures

Coda

2:24
"Bye bye, baby, bye bye!"

Johnson suddenly cuts off the boogie-woogie ostinato. With a few simple gestures, Johnson and Turner dismantle the rhythmic momentum and bring the performance to a close.

2:30
Thunderous applause greets the performers.

Copyright W.W. Norton