On The Sunny Side of the Street

Marie Bryant with Lester Young
and Barney Kessel

1944

This performance of “On The Sunny Side of the Street” – composed by Jimmy McHugh, with lyrics by Dorothy Fields – was put together in the way most musical sequences were in Hollywood at the time. The was music recorded beforehand and then played back on set for the musicians to perform to. One could call it an early music video.

Notice that, although white guitarist Barney Kessel’s audio is present on this track, an empty chair sits rather prominently in the frame through most of the performance. This was a form of subtle protest of the studio’s kowtowing to a racist ’40s public, which would have taken exception to a commercial work portraying a diverse group of performers.