Music Notes The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25.html Mon, 21 Aug 2017 05:30:05 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb My Old Flame http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/22054-my-old-flame.html http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/22054-my-old-flame.html My Old Flame

“Belle of the Nineties” - western comedy starring Mae West. Ruby Carter (West) is a cabaret singer working in Mississippi. In a man's world, Ruby has little trouble surviving on her own terms, resisting the attentions of a deluge of lecherous men. Instead, she reserves her affections for a boxer called The Tiger Kid (Roger Pryor). The film was based on West's original story “It Ain't No Sin” which was also to be the film's title until censors objected. A publicity stunt went awry when 50 parrots were trained to shout the original title of "it ain't no sin". The film was released on September 21, 1934.

My Old Flame

Mae West, expertly accompanied by Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, introduced Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow’s number “My Old Flame” in the motion picture. West had long been a fan of Duke Ellington, insisting that Ellington and his orchestra appear in the film. Although Paramount executives lamely balked that he was too expensive, West got her way. Duke and company expertly accompanied West on several numbers in the film.

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Belle of the Nineties (poster, 1934)

 

 

West was no great vocalist, but, as was the case with many ex-vaudevillians and Broadway stars, she knew how to “put a song over.” Variety magazine praised her performance, commenting that Ellington’s accompaniment was a “natural for Mae West.” One of West’s biographers, Maurice Leonard in his book Mae West: Empress of Sex, commented, “She sings the best she ever did on film.”

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Mae West in Belle of the Nineties

 

 

The sheet music for "My Old Flame”credits both Coslow and Johnston for music and lyrics, however, various other references, including Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball in their book ‘Reading Lyrics’ suggest Johnston wrote the music and Coslow the words. Coslow himself in his autobiography ‘Cocktails for Two’ just says he and Johnston "collaborated" on the song. However, in his comment quoted on Duke Ellington congratulating him on writing "My Old Flame" there is an implication that Ellington is referring to the music, as he almost never wrote the lyrics for his own songs.

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Guy Lombardo - My old flame (single, 1934)

 

Arthur Johnston was born in New York City and started out professionally playing piano for silent films. He would later become Irving Berlin’s pianist and musical director of stage production. Johnston moved to Hollywood in the late 20’s and initially found success arranging the score for Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights.” He went on to contribute to dozens of film scores, often collaborating with Johnny Burke and Sam Coslow.

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Arthur Johnston

 

Sam Coslow began writing songs as a teenager and had his first hit song in 1920. But his career didn’t really take off until he and his music publishing partner sold their business and moved to Hollywood in 1929. His most successful collaboration was with composer Arthur Johnston with whom he wrote a series of hit songs for films.

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Sam Coslow

 

In his autobiography, Coslow gives some background on the Mae West performance of "My Old Flame" when he points out that having her do "a torch ballad" was something new for her. Coslow goes on: “Her rendition established what was to be a song standard. . . . [and] I don't suppose it hurt her one bit that she had the backing of Duke Ellington and his band in the scene. We had suggested Duke to Mae.”

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Mae West

 

Clarinetist Goodman and vocalist Lee are heard in one of the earliest and most successful of their many collaborative performances. Eddie Sauter’s lush arrangement provides an effective backdrop for Lee’s elegant vocals. Coslow states, "Peggy's rendition of My Old Flame" on the Goodman record is one of my prize possessions". According to Ivan Santiago-Mercado, Peggy Lee's discographer, the two takes were made on August 20, (Chicago) and October 2, (New York) 1941.

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Benny Gooman & Peggy Lee

 

Saxophonist Charlie Parker offers one of his landmark ballad performances, finding a remarkable balance between reverence for the melody and creative improvisation. His young disciple Miles Davis is also featured on a lyrical trumpet solo. Ted Gioia says the recording Parker et. al. made for the Dial label November 4, 1947, "ranks with the most moving ballad performances of his career."

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Charlie Parker & Miles Davis

 

For Ted Gioia (in ‘The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire’), “My Old Flame” is especially interesting because it is written in a major key but sounds minor, and because it combines two contrary modes: intimacy and intricacy, a combination that "casts a certain charm over performances of the standard." He notes that the song has retained and even increased its popularity with jazz musicians having received more recordings in the first decade of the twenty-first century than in the thirties and forties combined.

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The Platters - My old flame (1958)

 

The tune never really caught on in a big way with the public and never hit the charts. But a 1947 recording by musical funster Spike Jones and his City Slickers was certainly popular, and, like many of his recordings, sold well and continues to be available in reissue packages.

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Spike Jones - My old flame (single, 1947)

 

"My Old Flame" [From 'Belle of the Nineties'] Lyrics


My old flame, I can't even think of her name, but it's funny now and then
How my thoughts go flashing back again to my old flame
My old flame, my new lovers all seem so tame, for I haven't met a girl
So magnificent or elegant as my old flame

I've met so many who had fascinating ways
A fascinating gaze in their eyes, some who took me up to the skies
But their attempts at love were only imitations of my old flame
I can't even think of her name, but I'll never be the same
Until I discover what became of my old flame

I've met so many who had fascinating ways
A fascinating gaze in their eyes, some who took me up to the skies
But their attempts at love were only imitations of my old flame
I can't even think of her name but I'll never be the same
Until I discover what became of my old flame

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“Belle of the Nineties”

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Tue, 08 Aug 2017 16:17:23 +0000
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/21214-mercy-mercy-mercy.html http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/21214-mercy-mercy-mercy.html Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

By the early 1960s hard bop was proudly displaying its affinity with R&B. At the forefront of the "soul jazz" movement was Cannonball Adderley, a dynamic alto saxophonist who made his reputation playing alongside John Coltrane in Miles Davis's extraordinary bands of the late 1950s. He played with Miles Davis as a sideman, including the ‘Kind of Blue’ album. After he left Miles Davis, Cannonball started his own successful quintet. Cannonball viewed himself as a jazz educator, always trying to teach people about jazz and bringing younger players in his band.

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

One of those young players was Joe Zawinul, who later headed one of the greatest fusion bands ever, Weather Report. While in Cannonball's band, Joe wrote “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”

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Cannonball Adderley

 

Cannonball formed his own quintet with brother Nat in 1959 and subsequently won over audiences with such successful soul-jazz crossover recordings as 1960's ‘Dem Dirty Blues’ and 1961's ‘Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley.’ The Adderley brothers (Cannonball on alto and Nat on cornet) were real pioneers in developing soul jazz; their quintet was incorporating soul sounds into its style back in the 1950s. Joining the Adderleys are Zawinul alternately on piano and electric piano, Victor Gaskin on bass, and Roy McCurdy on drums.

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Cannonball & Nat Adderley

 

The tune “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” was written by Joe Zawinul in 1966, and was recorded on Cannonball Adderley’s album “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! ‘Live at The Club’.” “The Club” was the former Club DeLisa on the South Side of Chicago, whose owner, E. Rodney Jones, was a friend of Adderley’s and got Adderley to go along with a clever bit of marketing for his venue. Jones wrote the liner notes to the album and spun a nice tale about how Capitol Records set up its equipment in his club one night and it just happened to be the night when Adderley’s band was in such incredible form that they decided to make an album out of it. In reality, the album was recorded at Capitol’s studio in Hollywood with an audience invited in to provide the “live” feel. Legend has it that the electric piano Zawinul used to record “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” was previously used by Ray Charles.

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Chicago, Club De Lisa, 1954

 

The song was a surprise commercial success, reaching No.2 on the Soul chart and No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1967. “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” is not a blues, although it is given that sense by Zawinul’s particularly inventive chord progression. Harmony of the tune has a strong Blues and Gospel sound. The chord progression oscillates between Bb and Eb, which is the four chord in the key of Bb, for the first 15 bars. The lack of much harmonic change, allows the soloist to explore a wide array of scale choices. Initially, try improvising on the tones of the major pentatonic scale (1-2-3-5-6); these are the tones of the melody in a different order. The next area to explore is the Blues scale (Bb-Db-Eb-E-F-Ab). Using a combination of these two choices will work well. The previously mentioned scales are just two of many choices. The final 5 bars start by going up to the five chord (similar to a Blues), then travels to the two chord, the three chord and lastly six to five, before returning to the top of the form. All the chords in the last five bars are contained within the key of Bb.

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Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! ‘Live at The Club’

 

"Mercy Mercy Mercy" is a great tune. In February of 1967, Johnny “Guitar” Watson & Larry Williams wrote lyrics to “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” scoring a hit on the R & B charts. The Buckinghams recorded the tune in August of 1967, which climbed to #5 on the pop charts. The Mauds also recorded the song the same year with lyrics by Curtis Mayfield, but the release of this version was somewhat overshadowed by the success of The Buckinghams’ cover.

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The Buckinghams, single, 23 June 1967

 

Originally from Vienna, Zawinul was a pioneer in the jazz fusion genre and known for incorporating electric keyboards and synthesizers in his interweaving of jazz, rock and world music elements.

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Joe Zawinul

 

The Buckinghams - "Mercy Mercy Mercy", lyrics


My baby she may not a-look
Like one of those bunnies out of a Playboy Club
But she got somethin' much greater than gold
Crazy 'bout that girl 'cause she got so much soul

I said she got the kind of lovin'
Kissin' and a-huggin'
Sure is mellow
Glad that I'm her fellow and I know
That she knocks me off my feet
Have mercy on me
'Cause she knocks me off my feet
There is no girl in the whole world
That can love me like you do

My baby when she walks by
All the fellows go, ooooooo, and I know why
It's simply 'cause that girl she looks so fine
And if she ever leaves me
I would lose my mind

She got the kind of lovin'
Kissin' and a-huggin'
Sure is mellow
Glad that I'm her fellow and I know
That she knocks me off my feet
Have mercy on me
'Cause she knocks me off my feet, hey
There is no girl in the whole world
That can love me like you do

Yeah, everybody in the neighborhood
Will testify that my girl she looks so good
And she's so fine
She'd give eyesight to the blind
And if she ever leaves me I would lose my mind

She got the kind of lovin'
Kissin' and a-huggin'
Sure is mellow
Glad that I'm her fellow and I know
That she knocks me off my feet
Have mercy on me
'Cause she knocks me off my feet
There is no girl in the whole world
That can love me like you do

Baby, yeah, you got that soulful feel
Yeah, it's all right
Mercy, mercy

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Cannonball Adderley Quintet

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Wed, 01 Mar 2017 23:19:44 +0000
When You Wish upon a Star http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/20841-when-you-wish-upon-a-star-.html http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/20841-when-you-wish-upon-a-star-.html When You Wish upon a Star

Mickey Mouse is clearly the most identifiable representation of Disney and everything they are. You see Mickey and you think Disney. They are one in the same, but behind Mickey the best representation of what the Walt Disney Company is and everything they believe in is a song. No ranking of Disney songs that places “When You Wish Upon a Star” in its top spot can be all bad. After all, this is the song that the Disney company has chosen over the years to feature as emblematic of its entire family-centered entertainment empire.

When You Wish upon a Star

After the smash success of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937, Walt Disney was in search of a follow-up film. Initially, he thought it was going to be Bambi, but production problems were hampering that movie. That necessitated moving up another animated feature he had in development: Pinocchio. Based upon the 1883 Italian children’s book “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi, it tells the tale of wood-carver Geppetto and puppet he makes named Pinocchio. Brought to life by the Blue Fairy, Pinocchio can become a real boy if he can prove himself to be “brave, truthful and unselfish.” He has many misadventures on his quest including encounters with a rather sly fox named Honest John and Monstro the giant whale, but is aided by traveling companion/conscience Jiminy Cricket.

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Pinocchio, Disney's 1940

 

Pinocchio’s production took around two years and boasted a large cast of creators including seven directors and seven screenwriters. The songs were written by Leigh Harline and >Ned Washington, with the musical score composed by Harline and Paul Smith, who had collaborated together on “Snow White.” In contrast with that picture, Walt Disney decided that he wanted celebrities to voice characters in the Pinocchio. Therefore, Cliff Edwards was brought in to play Jiminy Cricket.

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Carlo Collodi

 

Nicknamed “Ukelele Ike,” Edwards had appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway and in numerous MGM and Warner Bros. films. During the late 1920s, he had scored two pop hits including his introductory recording of “Singin’ in the Rain.” For “Pinocchio,” he got to perform that film’s classic, signature song which opens the movie: “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

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Cliff Edwards

 

Leigh Adrian Harline was born March 26, 1907 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He received music training from J. Spencer Cornwall, conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and following his graduation from the University of Utah, he began working for a string of radio stations. His radio work sent him to San Francisco and, by 1929, to Los Angeles where he was music director and announcer at KHJ radio. He went to work at the Walt Disney Studio in 1932 arranging and scoring animated shorts. As Disney began production of his features, Harline was enlisted to write songs. His most famous composition, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” was written for Pinocchio and the following year he received an Academy Award for it and another for the film's memorable score.

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Leigh Adrian Harline

 

Ned Washington, american pop lyricist, wrote many hits for Broadway and film from the 1930s through the 1960s. He began his career in music as a vaudeville MC and served as an agent for some of the vaudeville performers. Eventually, Washington began writing material for the vaudeville acts, and so started songwriting. One of his tunes was used in Earl Carroll's Vanities of 1928. While working for Warner Bros, Washington had a big hit with "Singing in the Bathtub," which was used in the revue “Show of Shows.” For the cinema, Washington went on to write music for MGM, Republic Studios, Paramount Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios. He also worked on successful Broadway musicals. Washington won a number of Academy Awards for Best Song, from 1940 for "When You Wish Upon a Star" through 1961's “Town Without Pity” title song.

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Ned Washington

 

“Pinocchio” did not have a proper soundtrack release in 1940. Six of the songs were issued across three 78s by Victor. A full length soundtrack album for the film was not released until 1956 on Disneyland Records. Cliff Edwards also recorded several of the songs for Decca, including ones which were cut from the film.

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Blue Fairy

 

“When You Wish Upon a Star” became the opening theme for Disney’s television anthology series in the ‘50s and ‘60s and is the music behind their opening movie logo. Additionally, it was ranked No. 7 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Songs in Film History list. The characters themselves are still prominent parts of the Disney experience, appearing throughout the theme parks; Jiminy Cricket has been featured prominently in various, mostly educational, Disney projects over the years.

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Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards)

 

It is not just a Disney classic tune but remains both a beloved and motivational song that has been covered by many artists. Louis Armstrong didn’t get around to recording the tune until 1968. The song would have been a natural fit for Armstrong even had recorded it anytime in the 1940s or 1950s, but waiting until 1968 only adds to the emotional wallop this performance packs. Armstrong tackled it on seemingly strange concept album, “Disney Songs the Satchmo Way.”

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Jiminy Cricket & Pinocchio

 

When You Wish Upon A Star Lyrics


When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do.

Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

When a star is born
They possess a gift or two.
One of them is this.
They have the power to make a wish come true.

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you,

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do.

Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing.

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true.

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When You Wish Upon A Star by Gun Legler

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Sun, 18 Dec 2016 19:29:40 +0000
Moanin' http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/20415-moanin.html http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/20415-moanin.html Moanin'

Benny Golson cajoled Jazz Messengers pianist Bobby Timmons into expanding a funky little lick into what would become one of the signature tunes of hard bop: “…I said, ‘OK, Bobby, that sounds good.’ And Lee [Morgan] and I learned it. Lee and I, for some reason, had the extraordinary ability to play and think and breathe exactly the same. And we never practiced it. I wasn’t aware of it myself ’til somebody pointed it out. We played exactly as one. I said, ‘OK, we’ve got it down. Now we’re gonna play it tonight, and I’m going to pay particular attention to the audience and see what it does to them. We played it and laid them out. Boy, they loved it. The name of the tune was ‘Moanin’. ”

Moanin’

Throughout its history, jazz has constantly evolved, developing from and reacting against its earlier incarnations. The mid-1940s saw bebop reinvent jazz as an artist's genre, distinct from the swing style that was the popular music throughout the 1930s and '40s. Bebop was music for listening, not dancing, and the emphasis became virtuosic improvised solos instead of memorable tunes and arrangements. However, the advent of bebop itself led to further reactions and developments within jazz during the 1950s. The newer genre again divided; cool jazz became a reaction against bebop, while hard bop maintained much of the bebop aesthetic.

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Art Blakey

 

Hard bop players continued in the bebop idiom by emphasizing improvisation, swinging rhythms, and an aggressive, driving rhythm section. Hard bop artists retained bebop's standard song forms of 12-bar blues and 32-bar forms as well as the preference for small combos consisting of a rhythm section plus one or two horns.

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Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, 1958

 

One of the premier hard bop artists and, in fact, the one who coined the term with the 1956 album Hard Bop, is drummer and bandleader Art Blakey. His band, the Jazz Messengers, was an extremely talented and influential group from its conception. Blakey formed the Jazz Messengers in 1953 with pianist Horace Silver, but, with the group's personnel constantly changing, few artists spent an extended period. This frequent turnover resulted in Blakey consistently working with the talented youth on the jazz scene.

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Art Blakey

 

On October 30, 1958 Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers recorded the album “Moanin'” at Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey for the Blue Note label. Moanin' is one of the most influential and important hard bop albums due to its outstanding compositions, arrangements, and personnel. The quintet at this time consisted of Pittsburgh native Art Blakey on drums, trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, bassist Jymie Merritt, and pianist Bobby Timmons, all from Philadelphia. Benny Golson wrote the arrangements and contributed four of the album's six tracks. The title track, "Moanin,'" composed by 22-year-old pianist Bobby Timmons, became the greatest hit of Blakey's lengthy career.

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Moanin', album

 

Robert Henry "Bobby" Timmons (1935 – 1974) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Timmons was strongly associated with the soul jazz style that he helped initiate. Timmons became best known as a member of Art Blakey's band the Jazz Messengers, which he was first part of from July 1958 to September 1959, including for a tour of Europe. He was recruited for the Messengers by saxophonist Benny Golson, who said that "He was inventive, [...] He could play bebop and he could play funky – he could play a lot of things, and I thought it was the element that Art needed. He hadn't had anybody quite like Bobby, who could go here or go there, rather than walking in a single corridor."

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Bobby Timmons

 

Sadly, Bobby Timmons had a troubled life and only lived until 1974 when he died of cirrhosis at age 38. A part of Timmons' troubles was that he was sensitive to harsh criticism. Some critics just didn't get what he was all about. Some did, like Gary Giddins and Marc Myers, but too late for Bobby Timmons, because by the time he was being hailed as an under valued, accomplished and innovative leader, writer and accompanist, he'd been dead for decades!

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Bobby Timmons

 

Timmons clearly wrote the swinging piece “Moanin’” with the intention of spotlighting the strengths of each member by letting them ride on a fairly soulful hard bop groove. Since Blakey never really emphasized soul in his groups, preferring to keep the groove fairly intense and straightforward, the funk is implied rather than stated outright. This may not have been Timmons' intention, since he does play the song with funky flair, but the implied groove fits Morgan perfectly, because he always remained intense, even on a groove. That's certainly the situation here, as he plays bluesy, expressive phrases that remain tight and concentrated, even as he "moans" them. The result is electric -- a wonderful tension between a nearly soulful groove and tight, focused hard bop.

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Benny Golson

 

"Moanin'" has a call and response melody. It is played in F minor. One account of its creation was given by Benny Golson, the tenor saxophonist in Blakey's band: Timmons had the opening eight bars, which he often played between tunes, but formed the complete song only after Golson encouraged him to add a bridge. Trumpeter Lee Morgan virtually stole the show with his bold, swaggering solo. Then again, the song was rather designed for him to do that.

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Lee Morgan

 

The song "Moanin'" is one of the tunes that helped to generate the "soul jazz" style of the late '50s and early '60s. Influenced by gospel, "Moanin'" makes use of call-and-response technique between the piano and horns. Instead of a walking bass, Merritt plays a rhythmically driving bass line, while Blakey plays a swing rhythm with emphasis on beats two and four. Morgan, Golson, and Timmons all play two-chorus solos followed by one chorus by Jymie Merritt. Morgan's solo makes use of blues inflections and maintains its cohesion through the use of catchy riffs. Golson proceeds into his solo from the end of Morgan's and uses a similar riff-based approach. Timmons continues in a bluesy style, alternating piano runs with chords, and progressing to develop upon a series of formulaic riffs. "Moanin'" concludes with the return of the head and a short piano tag. This song is a prime example of funky or soul jazz.

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Jymie Merritt

 

"Moanin'" has been recorded numerous times and has become a jazz standard. Gary Giddins stated that the song "set the music world on its ear" and that it was "part of the funky, back to roots movement that Horace Silver, [Charles] Mingus, and Ray Charles helped, in different ways, to fan." Jon Hendricks later added lyrics and the subsequent recording by Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross made the song even more popular.

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Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, 1958

 

Moanin' lyrics


Every Morning find me moanin'
Cause of all the trouble I see
Life's a loosing gamble to me

Cares and woes have got me moanin'
Every evening find me moanin'
I'm alone and cryin' the blues
I'm so tired of payin' these dues
Everybody knows I'm moanin'

Lord, I spend plenty of days and nights alone with my grief
But I pray, really and truely pray, somebody will come and make me believe.

Every Morning find me moanin'
Cause of all the trouble I see
Life's a loosing gamble to me
Cares and woes have got me moanin'

Every evening find me moanin'
I'm alone and crying the blues
I'm so tired of paying these dues
Everybody knows I'm moanin'

Lord I try, really and truely, try to find some relief
Lord I spend plenty of days and nights alone with my grief
But I pray, really and truely pray, to find some relief.
It's looooooooooong

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Moanin' by Grady89

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:16:47 +0000
God Bless the Child http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/20047-god-bless-the-child.html http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/20047-god-bless-the-child.html God Bless the Child

On December 30, 1938, Billie Holiday began singing at Barney Josephson’s Cafe Society nightclub at a salary of $75 a week, seven-days-a-week. The gig had been arranged by impresario John Hammond, who, although not Holiday’s manager per se, had been instrumental in many strategic career moves for her. Holiday was happy to have a steady New York engagement after being on the road with the big bands of Count Basie and Artie Shaw. Working at Cafe Society was the first time she was able to have complete artistic control over her material. She began singing and recording more standards rather than Tin Pan Alley material that song pluggers insisted she do. Although she quit Cafe Society in August, 1939, the exposure there, plus having a recording in the charts (“Strange Fruit”), enabled her to find work at 52nd Streets clubs such as Kelly’s Stables and the Famous Door for much better pay. In 1939 Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr. wrote a song called “God Bless the Child.”

God Bless the Child

Songwriter and pianist Arthur Herzog, Jr. (1900 – 1983) is responsible for a small number of songs, but what few there are have been performed countless times and recorded by many of the biggest names in jazz, from John Coltrane to Dinah Washington. Herzog's songs were most often recorded by the all-time great vocalist who co-wrote them, Billie Holiday.

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God Bless the Child

 

Billie wrote the lyrics after an argument with her mother, Sadie, over financial matters. Just a few years earlier, Holiday had loaned her mom thousands of dollars to open a restaurant and when she found herself in need of cash, Sadie declined to lend her any money. In her autobiography “Lady Sings The Blues,” Holiday recalled how, in the course of the row, she uttered the old proverb, "God bless the child that got his own." The singer's anger over the incident led her to turn that line into a starting point for this song.

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Billie Holiday sings God Bless the Child

 

In his 1990 book “Jazz Singing”, Will Friedwald writing about the song, labeled it as “sacred and profane” as it references the Bible while indicating that religion seems to have no effect in making people treat each other better. The lyrics refer to an unspecified Biblical verse: “Them that’s got shall get, them that don’t shall lose, so the Bible says, and it still is news…” This likely refers to Matthew 25:29 or Luke 8:18.

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God Bless the Child, sheet

 

"God Bless the Child" is a fairly simple melody that's written in the style of an old-time spiritual. According to the jazz historian Chris Tyle, "Billie’s lyrics tell the story of how everyone is your friend when you have money but that 'empty pockets don’t ever make the grade.' Others, including family, may have it but won’t help you out when you need it." The chorus, however, has one of the most engaging chord progressions of the period. This combination of ascending and descending chords creates an atmosphere and emotion that mirror the lyrics as appropriately as perhaps any song of the 20th century.

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Billie Holiday

 

Billie Holiday recorded "God Bless the Child," on May 9, 1941, for Columbia Records, (originally issued on their subsidiary label, Okeh), backed by Eddie Heywood and his Orchestra with Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Jimmy Powell and Lester Boone (alto saxophone), Ernie Powell (trumpet),Eddie Heywood (piano), Johan Robins (guitar), Paul Chapman (guitar), Grachan Moncur II (bass), Herbert Cowans (drums).

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Eddie Heywood & Billie Holiday

 

This, the original version of “God Bless the Child” is presented in a straightforward manner, though with Holiday’s brilliant singing and emotional depth things are seldom entirely straightforward. Billie Holiday’s original version is a timeless recording and a necessary starting point when exploring the song. Her more intimate 1956 version (“Lady in Autumn”) is also noteworthy and achingly beautiful.

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God Bless the Child, Okeh 1941

 

“God Bless the Child” is the absolute blueprint, but the song has been covered successfully by dozens of artists, the most auspicious being Blood, Sweat & Tears' fine version, which went Top Ten in 1969. For fans of the song and only familiar with the covers, Billie Holiday's version must be experienced.

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Blood, Sweat & Tears, album with God Bless the Child

 

God Bless the Child lyrics


Them that’s got shall get
Them that’s not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own

Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own

Money, you’ve got lots of friends
Crowding round the door
When you’re gone, spending ends
They don’t come no more
Rich relations give
Crust of bread and such
You can help yourself
But don’t take too much
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own

Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own
He just worry ’bout nothin’
Cause he’s got his own

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God Bless the Child (film)

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Sun, 17 Jul 2016 14:49:39 +0000
The Boulevard of Broken Dreams http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/19640-the-boulevard-of-broken-dreams.html http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/19640-the-boulevard-of-broken-dreams.html The Boulevard of Broken Dreams

"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is a 1933 hit song by Al Dubin (lyrics) and Harry Warren (music), set in Paris. The song appeared in the 1934 film “Moulin Rouge” and was sung in the film by Constance Bennett. However, Bennett never made a recording of the song. It was originally recorded by Deane Janis with Hal Kemp's Orchestra on October 31, 1933, in Chicago before the release of the film and was issued on the Brunswick label. Although numerous artists have recorded “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (including Bing Crosby 1944), this song is very strongly identified with Tony Bennett. In fact, his demo record of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” was heard by Mitch Miller (head of A&R ) and got Bennett his first recording contract with Columbia Records.

The Boulevard of Broken Dreams

The song's melancholic, haunting melody, composed by the underrated Harry Warren, who is credited with more hit songs for movies than the prolific Irving Berlin, has attracted as much attention from instrumentalists as vocalists.

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Constance Bennett

 

Harry Warren (December 24, 1893 – September 22, 1981) was the first major American songwriter to write primarily for film. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song eleven times and won three Oscars for composing “Lullaby of Broadway”, “You’ll Never Know” and “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe”. He wrote the music for the first blockbuster film musical, “42nd Street”, choreographed by Busby Berkeley, with whom he would collaborate on many musical films.

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Harry Warren

 

Warren was born Salvatore Antonio Guaragna, one of eleven children of Italian immigrants Antonio (a bootmaker) and Rachel De Luca Guaragna, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. His father changed the family name to Warren when Harry was a child. Warren had an early interest in music and taught himself to play his father's accordion. He began to play the drums professionally by age 14 and dropped out of high school at 16 to play with his godfather’s band in a traveling carnival. Soon he taught himself to play piano and by 1915, he was working at the Vitagraph Motion Picture Studios, where he did a variety of administrative jobs, such as props man, and also played mood music on the piano for the actors, acted in bit parts and eventually was an assistant director. He also played the piano in cafés and silent-movie houses. In 1918 he joined the U.S. Navy, where he began writing songs.

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Harry Warren

 

Warren wrote over 800 songs between 1918 and 1981, publishing over 500 of them. They were written mainly for 56 feature films or were used in other films that used Warren’s newly written or existing songs. His songs eventually appeared in over 300 films and 112 of Warner Brothers “Looney Tunes” cartoons.

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Harry Warren

 

He started working for Warner Brothers in 1932, paired with Dubin to write the score for the “42nd Street,” and continued to work there for six years, writing the scores for 32 more musicals.

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Harry Warren & Al Dubin

 

Alexander “Al” Dubin (June 10, 1891 - February 11, 1945) came from a Russian Jewish family which immigrated to the USA from Switzerland when he was two years old. He grew up in Philadelphia. There he worked as a songwriter and lyricist for various Tin Pan Alley music companies. He served in the First World War.

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Tonny Bennett, 1950

 

Dubin was responsible for lyrics to several Broadway shows. In 1970 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is perhaps most famous for the film “42nd Street”. Other famous movies included “Footlight Parade” and all five “Gold Diggers” films. Together, Warren and Dubin wrote 60 hit songs for Warner Brothers. In 1980 producer David Merrickand director Gower Champion adapted “42nd Street” into a Broadway musical that won The Tony Award for Best Musical for 1981.

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Al Dubin

 

“Moulin Rouge” is a 1934 film starring actress Constance Bennett. It contained the songs "Coffee in the Morning" and "Kisses in the Night" and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin. It has no relation to the 1952 film with the same name. The film was Twentieth Century's fourth most popular movie of the year.

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Moulin Rouge, poster 1934

 

The song was one of the first records for Tony Bennett in 1950; Bennett made a more Latin sounding recording of the song in 1952 and it was a hit. He recorded it again in 1990 and 2007. Bennett recorded a duet of the song with Sting for his 2006 “Duets: An American Classic album.”

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Tony Bennett, first single 1950

 

The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, lyrics


I walk along the street of sorrow,
The boulevard of broken dreams.
Where gigolo and gigolette
Can take a kiss without regret
So they forget their broken dreams.

You laugh tonight and cry tomorrow,
When you behold your shattered schemes.
And gigolo and gigolette
Awake to find their eyes are wet
With tears that tell of broken dreams.

Here is where you’ll always find me,
Always walking up and down.
But I left my soul behind me
In an old cathedral town.

The joy you find here, you borrow,
You cannot keep it long, it seems.
But gigolo and gigolette
Still sing a song and dance along
The boulevard of broken dreams.

Here is where you’ll always find me,
Always walking up and down.
But I left my soul behind me
In an old cathedral town.

The joy you find here, you borrow,
You cannot keep it long, it seems.
But gigolo and gigolette
Still sing a song and dance along
The boulevard of broken dreams.

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Hal Kemp's Orchestra with Deane Janis

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Sat, 30 Apr 2016 15:16:58 +0000
John Coltrane - Naima http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/19240-john-coltrane-naima.html http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/19240-john-coltrane-naima.html John Coltrane - Naima

In January 1960, Atlantic Records released John Coltrane's first monumental LP, “Giant Steps.” The album would drastically change the tenor saxophone's sound and purpose. But of all the hair-raising originals on “Giant Steps,” the one that became most important to Coltrane's repertoire was “Naima.“ After the song's debut on “Giant Steps,” Coltrane recorded the composition about a dozen times, each in a different way. By contrast, Coltrane never recorded “Giant Steps,” the title track, again after the album was released.

Naima

John Coltrane's original recording of "Naima" is extraordinarily beautiful, and it's possible that he never envisioned such a breathtaking version being played so many years after it had been composed. “Naima” was first recorded in May 1959 on with Tommy Flanagan on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Art Taylor on drums; however, the session wasn’t released until early 1960.

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“Giant Steps” album

 

"Naima" is a ballad that's so slow and reverential that it seems to stand still, suspended in mid air. Written as a love letter to his first wife, Naima, the song was Coltrane's favorite composition. "The tune is built on suspended chords over an E-flat pedal tone on the outside," Coltrane told Nat Hentoff for the album's original liner notes. "On the inside—the channel—the chords are suspended over a B-flat pedal tone."

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John Coltrane

 

Hentoff continues in the notes: "There is a 'cry'—not at all necessarily a despairing one—in the work of the best of the jazz players. It represents a man's being in thorough contact with his feelings, and being able to let them out, and that 'cry' Coltrane certainly has."

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John Coltrane Quartet

 

Coltrane met Naima Grubbs(Juanita was her given name) in 1953, at the home of bassist Steve Davis. She was working as a seamstress in a factory to support herself and her five-year old daughter Antonia (who later would be named Saeeda). Coltrane called Naima "Nita," short for her given name.

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John Coltrane

 

Coltrane and Naima were married in October 1955, just after Coltrane joined the Miles Davis Quintet. Coltrane and Naima moved to New York in 1956 with Naima's daughter Saeeda. By then, Davis had folded the quintet, largely a result of Coltrane's addictions and unpredictable behavior and playing.

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John and Naima

 

When Davis hired him in 1955, Coltrane's sound was pretty well in place but he was also addicted to narcotics and alcohol. Davis fired Coltrane twice for drug dependency. After the second time, in 1957, Coltrane cleaned up his life after undergoing a religious experience that led him to devote his life entirely to music. He spent a year playing with and being educated by Monk. He freelanced, composed ("Blue Train," "Moment's Notice"), and exhibited a facility with rapid tempos and romantic ballads. In 1959 he signed with Atlantic Records. Coltrane explored the relationship between chords and scales as he composed more complicated harmonic sequences.

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Miles Davie and John Coltrane

 

John Coltrane’s “Naima” is a classic of modern jazz. The song is a fully developed composition: strong harmonic structure, a gorgeous melody and a closing motif that sets it apart from most compositions which generally conclude with a simple recapitulation of the opening theme. Instead, "Naima" distinctively concludes with a thrice-repeated rising phrase.

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John Coltrane

 

In ‘The Freedom Principle: Jazz After 1958’ John Litweiler says, “The dogged simplicity that usually rushed in violent symmetrical lines now appears in spare form in the long-toned theme of ‘Naima’ as the purest of lyricism; embellishment, activity would violate this precious fragility. His tone is soft, and the setting is as simple as possible, over a one-note bass pedal; the melody of ‘Naima’--quiet, sunfilled--is worthy of Coltrane’s reverence, the unsuspected calm in the midst of his storms....”

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John Coltrane

 

Despite years spent supporting Coltrane and helping to inspire his artistic direction, Naima has been all but forgotten. Very little is known about her, and little credit has been given to her for her indirect contribution to jazz. According to Lewis Porter in ‘John Coltrane: His Life and Music,’ Coltrane also composed “Wise One” for Naima and “Syeeda’s Flute Song” for her daughter. Porter also claims that the hymnlike “Naima,” which stayed in his repertoire even after the couple broke up, was considered by Coltrane to be his best composition.

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Coltrane icon at St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Mon, 15 Feb 2016 08:46:39 +0000
But Beautiful http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/18827-but-beautiful.html http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/18827-but-beautiful.html But Beautiful

The song was one of Art Pepper’s favorites. True story: "One day a call came in on our unlisted number asking Art to play a special gig. It was the funeral of a man Art had never met—who was a major fan. The money (always important) was good, and they weren't asking for the whole band. Just Art. Art asked what tune they'd like to hear. They left it up to him. He pondered. Definitely NOT "Goodbye!" He finally decided on "But Beautiful." Art believed in beauty and believed it worked for any occasion.

But Beautiful

Bing Crosby introduced “But Beautiful” in the fifth “Road to Rio” film that he made with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Road to Rio outgrossed every other film in 1948 and also introduced “You Don’t Have to Know the Language” and “Experience.” It was scored by composer Jimmy Van Heusen and lyricist Johnny Burke, who collaborated for over a dozen years and produced dozens of hits and award-winning songs.

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Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Bing Crosby

 

If ever a composer defined the term "standard," it would undoubtedly be Edward Chester Babcock, better known by his stage name of Jimmy Van Heusen.

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Jimmy Van Heusen

 

Van Heusen was by all reckoning a complex, multi-talented individual with personal charisma to match. He lived the life of a rock star before rock stars existed. Van Heusen was not only a Hollywood jet-setter, he was also a test pilot. A raconteur of wine, women and song who some say could out-Sinatra Frank himself. The man's musical output was so prodigious and influential that it is too monumental a task to summarize his career in anything less than a book.

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Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Van Heusen

 

Edward Chester Babcock was born on January 26, 1913 in Syracuse, New York. His upbringing had been proper and religious and he even attended a seminary school for a short time . . . until he was kicked out for deflowering some of the local girls in a nearby cemetery.

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Bing Crosby and Jimmy Van Heusen

 

By 1939 the 27-year-old songwriter was known for his knack for hit melodies. At this time Van Heusen stumbled into a collaboration with Johnny Burke, who was employed by the Irving Berlin Publishing Company. Like Van Heusen, Burke was a contract pianist who was rapidly rising as a songwriter. In Burke's case, his specialty was lyrics, and his poetic skills seemed much better suited to the young Van Heusen than did DeLange's.

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Johnny Burke

 

Legend has it that Burke was visiting the publisher Van Heusen worked at, and offhandedly asked Jimmy if he "had any tunes." Van Heusen played one, and Burke then put down some lyrics for "Oh, You Crazy Moon," which got picked up by a few orchestras and became a minor hit. Supposedly Burke stopped by after "Moon" was published, and the pair cranked out "Polka Dots and Moonbeams." The song was recorded by Tommy Dorsey, featuring a vocal by a little-known guy named Frank Sinatra. The melody had a few leaps and skips that fit Sinatra's style perfectly, and the song became his first national hit in 1940.

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Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke

 

Burke was well established as a lyricist in Hollywood, having penned numbers for some Bing Crosby films. Burke and Van Heusen were quickly tapped to compose the soundtracks for the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby "Road" movies, of which the songs became as popular as the films.

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"Road to Rio" ST

 

According to Allen Forte in his book “Listening to Classic American Popular Songs” Tex Beneke’s recording of “But Beautiful” appeared on the popular radio program Your Hit Parade on February 14, 1948. “...It stayed for nine weeks and rose to third place once, which was quite a record for a song that sophisticated.”

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Tex Beneke

 

Forte goes on to say, “The lyrics for the song exemplify Burke’s considerable talent as well as his more modern approach to lyric writing, in which he used a combination of blank verse and rhymed verse. It is perhaps his most elegant production.” Burke opens the song by describing the vagaries of love with three contrasting emotions in a triple rhyme: “funny or sad,” “quiet or mad,” “good thing or bad.” And he continues, “tearful or gay,” “problem or play,” “heartache either way,” ending each group of phrases with “but beautiful.”

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Nancy Wilson - But Beautiful

 

Forte also describes in detail how well matched the lyrics are to the melodic and rhythmic motives of the song. “...Melody, rhythm, and lyrics combine to create an aesthetically intriguing and charming musical statement.”

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Stan Getz - But Beautiful

 

“But Beautiful” has been a favorite of pop and jazz vocalists for generations and continues to be tapped by contemporary singers Dena DeRose, Wesla Whitfield, Bobbe Norris, and Tiziana Ghiglioni. Pianists Chick Corea and Kenny Drew, Jr. as well as guitarists Mimi Fox and Ron Eschete have recorded the song. Vocalist Jimmy Scott and saxophonist Stan Getz with the Bill Evans Trio entitled albums But Beautiful.

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Betty Carter - But Beautiful

 

But Beautiful lyrics


Love is funny
Or it's sad
Or it's quiet
Or it's mad
It's a good thing
Or it's bad
But beautiful

Beautiful
To take a chance
And if you fall
You fall
And I'm thinking
I wouldn't mind
At all

Love is tearful
Or it's gay
It's a problem
Or it's play
It's a heartache
Either way
But beautiful

And I'm thinking
If you were mine
I'd never
Let you go
And that would be
But beautiful
I know

And I'm thinking
If you were mine
I'd never
Let you go
And that would be
But beautiful
That would be
But beautiful
I know

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Jimmy Van Heusen with Oscars

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Fri, 27 Nov 2015 18:02:27 +0000
Fats Waller’s Ain't Misbehavin' http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/18388-fats-wallers-aint-misbehavin-.html http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/18388-fats-wallers-aint-misbehavin-.html Fats Waller’s Ain't Misbehavin'

The history of the song has always been shrouded in legend. Waller himself used to like to say that he wrote it while in jail for failure to pay alimony. Some biographers have taken this as fact, but Razaf himself cleared up the mess in a 1966 letter to Bob Kumm, writing: “There is no truth to the widely circulated erroneous story about ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ being written while Fats was in prison. The song was written by Fats and myself at his West 133rd. St. home in Harlem. The title and words are entirely mine. An hour after we wrote it we went to the 44th St. Theatre and demonstrated it for the show rehearsal. It was selected to be the theme song of the show. After Paul Bass and Margaret Simms sang it as a love duet, I suggested that Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong sing and play a chorus from the orchestra pit. When he did, it became a terrific hit.”

Ain't Misbehavin'

"Ain't Misbehavin'" was first recorded in August 1929 in Camden, NJ, on Victor Records. Written by Thomas "Fats" Waller with lyrics by Andy Razaf as part of the score for the Broadway play ‘Hot Chocolates,’ the song debuted in March 1929 as a vehicle for Louis Armstrong to sing from the orchestra pit, but when Armstrong dazzled audiences with his vocal performance of the song, the producers of the play changed the script to bring him on-stage to sing it.

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Young Fats Waller

 

A reporter in The New York Times took note, writing “A synthetic but entirely pleasant jazz ballad called ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ stands out and its rendition between the acts by an unnamed member of the orchestra was a highlight of the premier." Soon enough, those in the audience had no choice but to know the name of this "unnamed member of the orchestra": due to the popularity of the performance, Armstrong was moved from pit to the stage and given a featured billing. He was officially a Broadway star.

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Louis Armstrong - Ain't Misbehavin'

 

"Connie's Hot Chocolates: Hot Feet" was an all black revue that opened at Connie's Inn on February 28, 1929. Barry Singer, Razaf's biographer, quotes a review of the show from the Pittsburgh Courier as saying, "This is the first floor show of New York's exclusive night clubs to entirely the work of men of color".

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Andy Razaf

 

Ken Bloom quotes Harry Brooks, who generally receives co-credit for the music, as presenting yet another aspect of how "Ain't Misbehavin" was written. The composition was, according to Brooks, "an attempt to copy the successful formula Gershwin used for 'The Man I Love.' We imitated the opening phrase that began just after the first beat and the minor part of the bridge, too."

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Louis Armstrong - Ain't Misbehavin', 1929

 

"Ain't Misbehavin'" was inspired by Waller's desire to answer quips regarding his reputation for overindulging in wine, women, and song. He was known for keeping two bottles of gin on the table during rehearsals, one for himself, the other for the band, and regular toasts for all kept the music flowing. The stride piano and ragtime master combined a sure sense of "ragged" syncopation on this song that was written while he was still in his twenties.

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Fats Waller

 

Fats Waller was in every way immense and prodigious. His appetites and his talents were large and inexhaustible. His friend and teacher, James P. Johnson, once said, “Some little people have music in them, but Fats, he was all music, and you know how big he was.” He was all laughter too – or almost all – and the most persistent image of Fats is the picture of him settled down at the piano with a bottle of gin nearby, his eyebrows raised, his derby askew and a cigarette dangling from his wide, cockeyed smile.

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Fats Waller

 

Thomas Wright Waller grew up in the exciting musical atmosphere of Harlem in the teens and ’20s. His parents were deeply religious, and Fats started out playing the organ in the Abyssinian Baptist Church and studying classical piano technique. He also began working with Harlem stride-piano masters like James P. Johnson and Willie “The Lion” Smith, although his father insisted that jazz was “music from the devil’s workshop.”

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Fats Waller

 

When he was still in his early 20s Fats began his collaboration with lyricist Andy Razaf; they scored their first success in 1928 with “Keep Shufflin’.” The next year was miraculous: Fats – only twenty-five years old – and Razaf wrote the score for the Broadway hit Hot Chocolates (which included “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Black and Blue”) as well as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling” (lyric credited to Billy Rose) and a host of other distinguished tunes. It was in that same year that Fats signed a contract with Victor, the company for whom he performed until the recording ban of World War II.

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"Connie's Hot Chocolates: Hot Feet", revue, 1929

 

Fats’s records, which began with “’T Ain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do” in 1922, spread his fame across the United States and around the world. It seemed that he could make any tune sound entertaining. The finale of ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’, in fact, is made up of some of the songs written by others that Fats Waller made hits.

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Fats Waller

 

Fats raised the art of stride piano (cleverly defined in “Handful of Keys”) to its highest level and in so doing became one of the originators of swing music. He was probably the greatest combination of musician and comedian that America has ever produced. As a composer, pianist and singer, he wove comedy and music together so well that his songs are as fresh and funny today as they were fifty years ago. In another time and place Fats Waller might never have become a comedian and might have been the classical artist his parents – and perhaps he himself – wanted him to be.

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Fats Waller

 

‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ remains one of five jazz standards written by Fats Waller that is still played by stride pianists and students of ragtime in the 21st century. The song appears on over 300 albums and CDs. In 1978, the Broadway musical and tribute to Fats Waller, Ain't Misbehavin', received a Tony Award as Best Broadway Musical. The original 1929 recording of "Ain't Misbehavin'" by Fats Waller received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1984, and it was one of fifty recordings selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004.

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Fats Waller - Ain’t Misbehavin’

 

Ain't Misbehavin' lyrics:


No one to talk with, all by myself
No one to walk with but I'm happy on the shelf
Ain't misbehavin', savin' my love for you

I know for certain the one I love
I'm through with flirtin', it's you that I'm dreamin' of
Ain't misbehavin', savin' my love for you

Like Jack Horner in the corner
Don't go nowhere, what do I care?
Your kisses are worth waitin' for, believe me

Don't stay out late, no place to go
I'm home about eight, just me and my radio
Ain't misbehavin', savin' my love for you

(instrumental break)

Like Jack Horner in the corner
Don't go nowhere, what do I care?
Your kisses are worth waitin' for, believe me

Don't stay out late, no place to go
I'm home about eight, just me and my radio
Ain't misbehavin', savin' my love for you
All my love

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Ain’t Misbehavin’, Broadway 1978

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Sat, 05 Sep 2015 21:23:18 +0000
Basin Street Blues http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/17896-basin-street-blues.html http://www.theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/17896-basin-street-blues.html Basin Street Blues

New Orleans in the south of the United States is famous for many things. One is traditional jazz. Another is the regions in the city which are divided into areas known as Quarters. And in the French Quarter is a well-known area called Storyville, and its main thoroughfare is Basin Street, the basis of this song. Storyville became a red light district in the 1870s. So if you were heading down the mighty Mississippi to New Orleans and you ended up in Basin Street, there's a fair chance you'd hear some jazz and see a little of the local night life.

Basin Street Blues

"Basin Street Blues" is a song often performed by Dixieland jazz bands, written by Spencer Williams. The song was published in 1926 and made famous in a recording by Louis Armstrong in 1928. The famous verse with the lyric "Won't you come along with me/To the Mississippi..." was later added by Glenn Miller and Jack Teagarden.

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Basin Street Blues - Louis Armstrong, 1928

 

“Basin Street Blues” is one of the most instantly likable of all of Armstrong’s “hot five and seven” recordings. Although it’s tempo is slow, it’s one of the prettiest melodies of the sessions, and Louis plays it magnificently – indeed, he plays with such carefree abandon that it’s impossible not to be swept up in his enthusiasm. Armstrong’s vocal is magnificent, his “scat” singing taking a few listens to get a feeling for, but one the listener does, it becomes a style of incredible beauty. “Basin Street Blues” would become one of Armstrong’s signature numbers throughout his whole career, and this sublime performance is the reason why.

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Louis Armstrong plays Basin Street Blues, 1959

 

Spencer Williams was one of the earliest black composers to shape jazz as popular music. Many of his songs including "Royal Garden Blues," "Everybody Loves My Baby" and "I Ain't Got Nobody" became anthems of the Jazz Age and the Swing Era—and remain standards today.

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Spencer Williams

 

Spencer Williams was born in 1889 in New Orleans. Educated at St. Charles University, Williams worked in Chicago as a vocalist and pianist as early as 1907. There, he often performed with another pianist, composer, and bandleader: Clarence Williams—no relation. About the time of WWI, Spencer Williams began writing pop songs, such as "Squeeze Me," which he co-composed with Fats Waller.

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Basin Street, 1909

 

In 1925 Spencer Williams traveled to Paris and wrote songs for the voluptuous and exotic American expat, Josephine Baker, a star of the famed Follies Bergére. In 1930 Spencer made several recordings, singing and playing the piano with the highly regarded blues guitarists Teddy Bunn and Lonnie Johnson. In 1932 he vacationed in France with his friend Fats Waller. When Waller returned to the U.S., Williams moved to England, where he remained in residence until 1951, after which he made Sweden his home.

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Josephine Baker

 

 

"Basin Street Blues," Williams' 1928 song, celebrates the center of New Orleans' nightlife, which took its name from the "basin" formed back of town from the excavation of building materials by the city's early inhabitants.

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Mahogany Hall

 

Pianist and composer Spencer Williams titled this number after the street where he lived as a youngster with his aunt. But the house he lived in was no ordinary house: it was Mahogany Hall, probably the most famous brothel of Storyville, New Orleans’ red light district. And Spencer’s aunt was the notorious madam Lulu White.

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Madam Lulu White

 

The person with whom the tune was most often associated was trombonist/vocalist Jack Teagarden. Although he had recorded the number in 1929 with the Louisiana Rhythm Kings (a recording band with not one musician from Louisiana), it wasn’t until the session from February, 1931, with another recording band, the Charleston Chasers, that “Basin Street Blues” really made an impact.

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Basin Street Blues - Charleston Chasers, 1931

 

In the 1930s Esquire Magazine featured a number of articles on jazz and by the 1940s was heavily involved in the scene, publishing several yearbooks and running a reader’s poll. A recording from their All-Star concert of 1944 includes a unique version of “Basin Street Blues” featuring Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden reprising their vocal renditions.

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Esquire Jazz All Stars Concert, 1944

 

It is generally assumed that Spencer Williams wrote the lyrics. According to Jack Teagarden’s recollection, he and Glenn Miller were responsible for both the music and lyrics for the “new” verse and the lyrics for the chorus. The following, from Bill Crow’s Jazz Anecdotes, tells the real story:

“I was home in New York the evening before the “Basin Street Blues” record date when Glenn called me from his apartment in Jackson Heights. ‘Jack, I think we could do a better job if we could put together some lyrics and you could sing it. Want to come over and see what we can do?’...We finally finished the job sometime early in the morning. Next day, we cut the record. It’s been the most popular I’ve ever done! The lyrics were later included with the sheet music, but it never carried our names.”

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Jack Teagarden Orchestra, 1933

 

Jazz music was mainly played by black Americans in its early days and the lyrics of this song about "dark and light folk" was later replaced by the lyrics of "young and old folk" - a sign of the times, perhaps. In fact, the song has had several lyric changes over the years. But it must have great appeal, as recordings continue over the decades from such performers as Ella Fitzgerald and Liza Minnelli, and Jo Stafford and Frankie Laine recorded it as a duet.

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Ella Fitzgerald - Basin Street Blues

 

The buildings along Basin Street, slum properties and elegant mansions alike, were razed in the 1930s to make way for the Iberville Projects, which replaced the music haunts and speakeasies. However, there are a few scattered buildings still standing original from Louis Armstrong's time in the Quarter.

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Storyville

 

 

Louis Armstrong recorded this song on December 4, 1928, and in 1933 with his orchestra, also in 
1958 with the All Stars. The original lyrics to this song were very racist. Louis changed many words to 
make it more performable.

 

Basin Street Blues, lyrics


Won't you come and go with me
Down that Mississippi
We'll take a boat to the land of dreams
Come along with me on, down to New Orleans

Now the band's there to greet us
Old friends will meet us
Where all them folks goin to the St. Louis Cemetary meet
Heaven on earth.... they call it Basin Street

I'm tellin' ya, Basin Street...... is the street
Where all them characters from the First street they meet
New Orleans..... land of dreams
you'll never miss them rice and beans
Way down south in New Orleans

They'll be huggin'.... and a kissin'
That's what I been missin'
And all that music....lord, if you just listen'
New Orleans....I got them Basin Street Blues

Now ain't you glad you went with me
On down that Mississippi
We took a boat to the land of dreams
Heaven on earth...they call it Basin Street

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Basin Street Blues - Benny Goodman, 1934

 

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Sun, 07 Jun 2015 16:38:23 +0000