Well, I had a choice this week: “either about kids growing up (such as Brad Paisley’s “if he’s anything like me”) or songs from Musicals, whichever you prefer!” I’ll choose the latter.
Songs from musicals have always provided fodder for jazz musicians, who can take a song, change the tempo, reharmonize it, and improvise (or “riff”) off the original melody at will. Many songs considered standards started their lives as show tunes. Here are but five examples of some of the greatest jazz musicians ever playing songs from Broadway musicals or movie musicals and turning them into pure magic.
Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise – George Benson: By Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II for the 1927 operetta The New Moon. One of my favorite movies is Deep In My Heart, a 1954 biopic about Romberg that starred José Ferrer as the composer. This song, and some of the more jazzy interpretations of it, figure prominently in the picture. Ferrer made two movies in 1954; the other was The Caine Mutiny.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – Miles Davis: Written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach for the 1933 musical Roberta. Davis drew heavily from the Broadway stage in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
My Funny Valentine – Chet Baker with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet: From the 1937 musical Babes in Arms by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Wikipedia tells me that this recording “will be 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’.”
My Favorite Things – John Coltrane: From The Sound of Music (1959) by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. ‘Trane’s 1961 album of the same name signaled his switch from bebop to modal jazz and is considered a groundbreaker.
Cheek to Cheek – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: I’ve done all instrumental covers to this point, here’s a vocal performance by one of the great jazz pairings. From the movie Top Hat (1935) by Irving Berlin.
That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for October 5, 2015. Hope you’ve enjoyed it.