standard

All posts tagged standard

September Leaves Summer

In temperate zones of the world, September marks the changing of the seasons, the leaves turn into non-green colours and fall to earth to become nutrients for the seeds and fruits which nourish us and hibernating mammals. and migrating birds.

For we humans, it marks summer holidays past, a welcome return for parents of their children to centres of learning, but perhaps a less than welcome return to drudgery, of surviving harsh weather and disciplinarian teachers.

Living in tropical climes means that the passing of the seasons does not have quite the same resonance. Waiting for the rains to come, or go, is it, the metronomic tic-toc of a clock rather than the finality of tic-tac-toe.

Yes, September points to the passing of the years, from childhood to dotage and a final farewell. Naturally, there are songs about the month, and one in particular is now a ‘standard’:.

fr. Wikipedia

‘September Song’ is based on a metaphor in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 which compares a year to a person’s life span from birth to death.

The song was composed by Kurt Weill, with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, and introduced by Walter Huston in the 1938 Broadway musical production Knickerbocker Holiday. After being used in the 1950 film September Affair, the song has since been recorded by numerous singers and instrumentalists.

First though, listen to Walter Huston’s original version

WFMU has umpteen versions to listen to, far more than trawled from IndoJazzia’s archives.

Download

Note: Lotte Lenya (18 October 1898 – 27 November 1981) was an Austrian singer, diseuse, and actress, … best remembered for her performances of the songs of her husband, Kurt Weill.

Blue Skies, a jazz standard became a hit by sheer chance.

The song was introduced by actress/vocalist Belle Baker in the 1926 musical Betsy with music written by the song writing team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. She was unhappy with the piece the two had written for her solo (This Funny World), and contacted old friend Irving Berlin in hopes he might have something that would suit her needs. He had, in fact, just put the finishing touches on a number dedicated as a Christmas gift to his newborn daughter, Mary Ellin. Baker liked the song, and it was inserted into the musical, much to the chagrin of Rodgers and Hart, who were not consulted and wouldn’t have allowed the change. The tune was the hit of the show, and Baker received 24 encores on opening night, December 28, 1926. Despite this, the show itself was a disaster and closed a month later.

However, a year later, in 1927, the first feature-length motion picture with sound, The Jazz Singer starring vocalist Al Jolson, had nine songs including Blue Skies. and it was a hit.

There have been hundreds of recorded versions, yet you’ll have to make do with the (just) eight found in IndoJazzia’s archives.

Download

1935-39. Chick Webb
1938. Benny Goodman
1942. Nat King Cole Trio
1946. Peggy Lee
1949. Art Tatum
1954. Dinah Washington
1981. Ray Brown & Laurindo Almeida
1988. Cassandra Wilson
+ bonus track

+ Rod Stewart in 2005 …

Mood Indigo was composed by Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard for a radio broadcast in October 1930, and was originally titled Dreamy Blues.

It was “the first tune I ever wrote specially for microphone transmission,” Ellington recalled. “The next day wads of mail came in raving about the new tune, so Irving Mills put a lyric to it.”

And it was renamed …

… and became a jazz standard….

… which has been played and sung to the present day by, among others …

01. Duke Ellington & His Orchestra – Mood Indigo (1930)
02. Garland Wilson – Mood Indigo (1933)
03. Thelonius Monk – Mood Indigo (1955)
04. Sidney Bechet – Mood Indigo
05. Frank Sinatra – Mood Indigo (1955)
06. Ella Fitzgerald – Mood Indigo (1957)
07. Nina Simone – Mood Indigo (1957)
08. Louis Armstrong – Mood Indigo (1970)
09. David Grisman & Martin Taylor – Mood Indigo (1995)
10. Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Mood Indigo

Mediafire

[Note: I can’t date the Sidney Bechet or the Preservation Hall Jazz Band versions.]

If you’ve been to a mall recently you’ll already know that today is Valentine’s Day. So, what better excuse to put together different versions of the well known standard My Funny Valentine?


Wikipedia has this: My Funny Valentine is a show tune from the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical Babes in Arms in which it was introduced by former child star Mitzi Green. The song became a popular jazz standard, appearing on over 1300 albums performed by over 600 artists.

In 2015 it was announced that the Gerry Mulligan quartet featuring Chet Baker’s version of the song was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry for the song’s “cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy“.

IndoJazzia has inducted the version of the song by the Gerry Mulligan quartet featuring Chet Baker, as well as Chet Baker’s version of the song on his album Chet Baker Sings into our compilation because they’re both good..As are the other dozen by, and in alphabetical order, Ben Webster & Teddy Wilson, Bill Evans & Jim Hall, Enrico Rava Quintet w. Pat Metheny, Frank Sinatra, Gary Burton, George Shearing, Lenny Breau, Mick Goodrick & Joe Diorio, Pat Metheny & Nils Landgren, Radka Toneff & Steve Dobrogosz, Shirley Horn, and Viktoria Tolstoy w. Esbjörn Svensson Trio.

To be honest, we think … nay, we know … that listening to fourteen versions of the same sentimental song is overkill. So why not download them all, choose your favourite version and sing along with one of them, either to your sweetheart or yourself.

My Funny Valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Unphotographable
Yet you’re my favorite work of art

Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But don’t change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine, stay
Each day is Valentines Day

Happy smooching one and all.

MediaFire

One of Billie Holiday’s most iconic songs is Strange Fruit, a haunting protest against the inhumanity of racism. What you may not realise is that the song was written by a school teacher in New York, Abel Meeropol, who wrote a poem because he was ‘haunted’ by a photograph of a lynching.

This is a BBC podcast about the song which became a standard ….

The first five versions of Strange Fruit in this compilation from the IndoJazzia archives are in the order of the snippets played in the podcast. Artists: Billie Holiday, Jeff Buckley, Sidney Bechet, John Martyn, Nina Simone, Cassandra Wilson, Cocteau Twins, Diana Ross (who played Billie Holiday in the biopic Lady Sings The Blues), Lucia Cadotsch, Robert Wyatt, Tori Amos, Siouxie and the Banshees, Marcus Miller.

Mediafire

This is a 1929 song composed by Fats Waller with lyrics by Andy Razaf. It was introduced in the Off-Broadway revue Load of Coal at Connie’s Inn as a soft-shoe dance number. Waller’s 1934 recording was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

Interestingly, the soundtrack of 1980’s “musical drama” film Honeysuckle Rose did not include the song.

But no matter.

There are several versions in IndoJazzia’s archives which you can download from MediaFire. Featured artists are pianists Fats Waller, Count Basie, Teddy Wilson, Errol Garner, Earl Hines, Bobby Maxwell; guitarists Django Reinhardt, Svend Asmussen & Ulrik Neumann, Dick McDonough. Ken Sykora; Herb Ellis & Joe Pass; vocals by Louis Jordan, Mildred Bailey, Sarah Vaughan, Nesia Ardi, Mark Murphy; then a group of British jazzers lead by Stan Tracey.

But first, here’s the jam session in the famous 1938 Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall Concert.

If you’ve ever wondered, this is a honeysuckle rose …


… and this is an ale I’d like to try.

The sheet music is here

It was first a novel

Then a 1947 movie

… with a theme song composed by Bronisław Kaper with lyrics by Ned Washington, and played by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, with Bill Lawrence singing … ..

… what would become a jazz standard when played by Miles Davis in 1958.

Then a group in Bandung took the title as their name …

… which lead to this downloadable compilation from IndoJazzia’s archives:

  1. Mel Torme
  2. Oscar Peterson Trio w. Milt Jackson
  3. Herb Ellis & Ray Brown
  4. Red Norvo
  5. Joe Diorio
  6. Mick Goodrick & Joe Diorio
  7. Mike Nock & Dave Liebman
  8. John Taylor & Gwylim Simcock
  9. John Surman & Steve Hamilton

One of those uniquely interpreted songs you can’t get out of your head.

It’s a perfect fit for Billie Holiday …

… and I’ve always thought she wrote the lyrics. But I was wrong.

Willow Weep For Me was composed by Ann Ronell who dedicated it to to George Gershwin, the composer who helped her get her start in the music industry. She was notable for being one of the only composers at the time to handle both music and lyrics.

The song was introduced by vocalist and whistler Muzzy Marcellino performing with Ted Fio Rito and His Orchestra. Their October 1932 Brunswick recording entered the pop charts December 3, 1932, and rose to number seventeen.

On December 17 Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra’s Victor recording with singer Irene Taylor entered the charts and was more favourably received, rising to number two in the US charts.

Over thirty years later, in 1964, Willow Weep for Me re-emerged on the pop charts, this time by the British duo Chad and Jeremy.

But I always preferred the version by Alan Price: he sang with soul. All the other tracks have their individual jazz interpretation.

MediaFire

Tracks
01. Ted Fio Rito Orch. w. Muzzy Marcellino voc.
02. Paul Whiteman Orch. w. Irene Taylor voc.
03. Alan Price Set
04. Etta James
05. Sarah Vaughan
06. Julie London
07. Dexter Gordon
08. Ray Charles w. David ‘Fathead’ Newman
09. Art Tatum
10. Thelonious Monk & Milt Jackson
11. Jan Johansson & Rune Gustafsson
12. Ron Carter

… and elsewhere.

Our compilation of Pre-War Stomps did not include the real classic, Stompin’ at the Savoy. This refers to the Savoy Ballroom which was located at 596 Lenox Avenue, between West 140th and 141st Streets in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City.

The Savoy opened in 1926 and featured a large 10,000 square foot dance floor which began to attract the best dancers in New York. In 1927 the Savoy began sponsoring jazz band competitions. Chick Webb’s Harlem Stompers participated in the first of these cutting sessions which was called the Battle of Jazz. Over the next several years, Chick Webb and His Orchestra would become the Savoy house band and with his triumphs over the likes of the Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, and Benny Goodman bands, he would be crowned The King of the Savoy.

The soon-to-become-a jazz standard was originally composed by Edgar Sampson  in 1936 while he was alto saxophonist and arranger in Chick Webb’s band. He was later hired by Benny Goodman as an arranger, and Andy Razaf, Fats Waller’s frequent lyricist, turned the instrumental hit into the song, so all four share writing credits.

Download
01. Errol GarnerStompin’ At The Savoy (1951)
02. Chick Webb Savoy OrchestraStomping at the Savoy (1934)
03. Benny GoodmanStompin’ at The Savoy (1938)
04. Charlie ChristianStomping At The Savoy (Live in a small club 1941)
05. Remo Palmieri (w. Teddy Wilson?) – Stompin’ at the Savoy (1945)
06. Jazz At The Philharmonic –  Stompin’ at the Savoy 1 (1954)
The soloists are, in order, Flip Phillips, Bill Harris and Joey deFranco.
07. Jazz At The Philharmonic –  Stompin’ at the Savoy 2 (1954)
The soloists are, in order, Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge.
Both parts are from the 1954 Norman Granz Jam Sessions.

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong sing, swing, and stomp about the Savoy in 1957 …

The ballroom closed permanently in October 1958, but the music has lived on..
08. The Three SoundsStompin’ at the Savoy (1961)
09. Louis StewartStomping At The Savoy (1994)
Count Basie’s band, like all the other bands, did play in other venues.
10. Count Basie & His OrchestraSwinging At The Daisy Chain (1937)
The only reference I can find to the Daisy Chain is this: Buffet flats such as Hazel Valentine’s Daisy Chain offered sexual tableaux – both hetero and homo- staged in apartment chambers.
11. Count Basie & His OrchestraJumpin’ At The Woodside (1937)
12. Duke Ellington & Count BasieJumpin’ At The Woodside (1961)
The Duke also played at the Savoy and, presumably, the Woodside Hotel in New York.
13. Branko KraljJumpin’ At The Woodside (1962)
14. Albert AmmonsBoogie Woogie At The Civic Opera (1946)
Was it the Chicago Civic Opera House?

This was the ‘house band’ at the Savoy Hotel in London between 1923 and 1927. They broadcast live once a week on BBC radio.


Martin Taylor is, like the Savoy Orpheans  were, British.

John Lewis’ sublime and serene title track Django is dedicated to the memory of guitarist extraordinaire Django Reinhardt. This musical paean aptly recaptures the essence of Reinhardt’s enigmatic gypsy-like nature, especially evident within Jackson’s leads, which emerge from the thoughtful opening dirge with a refined, warm tone throughout. Reinhardt’s playfulness is recalled in Lewis’ well-placed interjections between and beneath Jackson’s lines.”

So wrote one reviewer (not this one) of the Modern Jazz Quartet’s playing on their 1956 album.

Judge for yourselves if they still had it in 1982.

Download this compilation and consider how each musician plays the same tune in their own way.

In alphabetical order they are Bobo Stenson & Mike Mainieri / Dorothy Ashby / Grant Green / Joe Pass / John Lewis & Svend Asmussen / Nial Djuliarso / Oscar Peterson / Roland Kirk.