To anyone growing up in the US in the 1970s, ‘Home to Emily’ will probably be a familiar tune. It was the theme song to the Bob Newhart Show, which ran from 1972-1978, and was probably my first exposure to the sounds of an 18 piece ensemble.
It was written by Lorenzo and Henrietta Music – Lorenzo was also the voice of Garfield the Cat. The theme was recorded twice for the show, both times by the Patrick Williams Big Band; the original featured the main theme played on the flugelhorn, and the later, funkier version, featured the trumpet playing of Buddy Childers. Childers was by this time an alumnus of the Stan Kenton band, having started with Kenton at 16 years of age and spending over a decade with the band.
British listeners of a certain age may have heard the Patrick Williams Big Band on the theme music for The Mary Tyler Moore Show; they appear to have been the go-to band for TV theme tunes in the 70s and released ‘Home to Emily’ on the 1978 album Come on and Shine.
The song was later recorded by Lew Soloff, of Blood Sweat and Tears fame, who performed it on an album called The Jazz Messengers – not the Art Blakey outfit, interestingly. Most recently, Wayne Bergeron has recorded a version of the tune on his 2020 album, A Tribute to Patrick Williams.
In the pantheon of great trumpet features, ‘Home to Emily’ is unlikely to get wide recognition, but to a little boy growing up in Alabama who had never heard jazz, the sound of the opening horn kick, followed by the mellow flugelhorn solo, formed the genesis of a life-long love for the trumpet. ‘Home to Emily’ was one for the first things I tried to play when I got a horn of my own.