Plagiarism is all over the headlines this minute yet there’s only one potential piece of piracy we need to close the books on.
Compare “Tozo,” recorded on January 21, 1927 by Fletcher Henderson’s band and composed by Henderson with lyricist M. Cowdery:
and “Bozo,” an Edward Hite tune recorded in November 1928 by Clarence Williams and His Orchestra:
Sing or hum the ballad of the Hottentot sheikh along with Ed Cuffee’s slow, slack opening trombone on the second title: don’t these two tunes sound alike? Don’t the chord changes, at the very least, sound very similar? Did Hite pilfer Henderson (or whoever)’s work? Was he teasing at it by rhyming his composition with the title of the purloined stomp? Or did Clarence Williams just think it would complement a tune christened “Bimbo” at the same record session?
This uncertainty isn’t going away anytime soon. Let’s get to the bottom of this, people.