Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie!

Charlie Davidson, the legendary 86-year-old proprietor of The Andover Shop, doesn’t often condescend to pose for the camera, but he acquiesced last week for my long-gestating profile in The Rake. Consider the shot above a sneak peek and expect the story sometime this summer.

The headline, for those of you who don’t listen to music written before your time, is a reference to the 1925 popular song “Clap Hands, Here Comes Charley,” which was also a 1961 album by Ella Fitzgerald.

When Charlie finds out you dig jazz, conversation gets pulled magnetically to the topic. So when I visited Charlie in Cambridge, Ella Fitzgerald came up somehow. I remember telling him that she was the first jazz vocalist I discovered at age 18, and I had half a dozen of her records, but that I’d long since lost the taste for her, and these days she frankly annoys me. Not in a Julia Roberts way (for reasons I can’t explain, if I were trapped on a desert island with her for the rest of my life, I think I’d rather have sex with coconuts), but I’d certainly prefer to listen to, say, Anita O’Day.

When Charlie asked who my all-time favorite female vocalist was, I told him it was Ms. Anderson, whose first name, appropriately, was Ivie.

At the mention of Ellington’s famed Blanton-Webster band of ’40-’42, Charlie smiled enthusiastically.

Rather like in the photo above. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

Charlie Davidson of The Andover Shop is photographed by Tasha Bleu.

7 Comments on "Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie!"

  1. Regarding Ella, though her pitch is perfect, it is her tone
    that never changes and results in as if listening to a
    “hum” that stays at perfect pitch but with no animation
    to give the song to express more than just “perfect pitch”.

    Might I point out a lovely singer who died too soon.
    Nancy Lamott. Mostly NYC cabaret, but what a beautiful
    voice. Give here a sampling I’m sure you’ll be quite pleased.
    Extraordinary.

  2. A real Hall of Famer.

  3. Im afraid I can’t back you on Ella, but Julia Roberts also gives me the willies. Check out Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie — her rendition of Cry Me a River is terrific — and see if you’re willing to give her another chance. Meantime, I’ll flip you for the coconut.

  4. in that scenario you’d probably have a better chance with the coconuts anyway.

  5. G. Bruce Boyer | June 5, 2012 at 8:15 am |

    Many thanks for this post. Charlie Davidson is truly a legend, a generous, erudite gentleman of the first water. He has befriended me over the years, as he has the likes of George Wein, Miles Davis, George Frazier, and countless other aficionados of classic clothing and jazz. I simply do not know a more decent, companionable man. As they say, he has no betters, and damned few peers.

  6. World's End | June 5, 2012 at 8:38 am |

    @Bruce Boyer

    Let me take this opportunity to thank you so much for your championing of the great Bobby Bland. Sorry for hijacking, Christian.

  7. Dickey Greenleaf | June 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

    Hey Chris, if you don’t dig Ella anymore, I recomend listening to Ella Fitzgerald live in Budapest, the Girl from Ipanema always gets me going again, try listening to that, and see if that one I’ll get you going again.

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