OR/WA 2012 SET I
9:20 Special (Warren, Basie, 1930s)
The Count Basie Band was one of the big surprises of the 1930s. A blues-based “territory” band from Kansas City, it hit New York with a style in wild contrast to those of Fletcher Henderson and Chick Webb who commanded Harlem.
Straighten Up And Fly Right (Cole, 1943)
Nat King Cole’s first hit in 1943 on the fledgling Capitol label, and one of the hallmarks of the great King Cole Trio, which featured Nat Cole’s sparkling piano in tandem with the guitar of Oscar Moore. Starving in Los Angeles, Nat had sold the rights to his song for $50. The song nonetheless, helped establish his career.
Liza (Gershwin, Kahn, Gershwin, 1929)
Is one of the fine contributions from the Gershwin brothers, and an example of how much the new exciting songs of Gershwin, Kern, Arlen, Berlin, Porter and Rodgers influenced and stimulated the Big Bands and soloists of the era.
All of Me ~ (Gerald Marks, Seymour Simons, 1931)
First appearing in 1931, this song enjoyed many revivals, including a Billie Holiday version and later one by Frank Sinatra, which really established the tune as a standard. Denise Perrier sings.
Alright, OK~ Singer Joe Williams shot a spark into the Count Basie band of the 1950s with hits such as “Ev’ry Day” and “The Comeback,” contrasted with a smooth, swinging ballad style that helped launch a popular career, that persisted into the 1990s.
Caravan (Tizol, Ellington, 1937)
Long established as a Duke Ellington standard, “Caravan” was really a contribution of Ellington’s long-time valve trombonist Juan Tizol, who also wrote “Perdido.” The germ of many Ellington compositions came from his sidemen, and Duke had the luxury of maintaining a band to glean their ideas, as well as to test and stimulate his compositional offerings.
Sam You Made The Pants Too Long
Adapted from Victor Young’s “Lord, You made the Night Too Long” 1932, a minor Bing Crosby hit that Milton Berle and cronies felt obliged to parody in 1940 as a man’s kvetch to his tailor.
You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To ~ (Porter, 1942)
Ending a title with a preposition was just one of the ways that Cole Porter broke the rules with his inventive songs and urbane, sometimes riskè lyrics. Porter wrote all his own lyrics, something that among the great popular composers only Irving Berlin and Frank Loesser attempted. Though widely renowned for those lyrics, Cole Porter’s true genius lies in his compositions, like this one sung by Denise Perrier.
Until the Real Thing Comes Along ~ (Chapman, Cahn, 1936)
Has personal meaning to Denise Perrier, who heard it as a young girl in her own family. Lyrics are by the beloved Sammy Cahn, who penned many songs with composer Jimmy Van Heusen for Frank Sinatra, but this one was written with Saul Chapman.
Route 66 ~ (Troup, 1946)
Bobby Troup and his young wife composed the song as they drove their car westward to seek their fortune in Hollywood. They tried their rhymes first on other highways, but it was only when they got on Route 66 after Chicago that the tune began to click. The song became widely popular and one of the hits for Nat King Cole and his King Cole Trio.
OR/WA 2012 Set II
Count Basie’s band was most at home with the blues, which harkened back to its Kansas City origins, and often displayed the band’s extraordinary sense of dynamics and irresistible rhythmic pulse, driven by the rhythm guitar of Freddie Green in lock-step with drums and bass, and the Count’s pianistic comments.
I’ve Got the World On a String (Arlen, Koehler)
This is one of the early songs which introduced the world to the music of Harold Arlen. Arlen teamed with lyricists to produce many of the greatest songs in American Music; Ted Koehler (for this and other songs), Yip Harburg (the score for “The Wizard of Oz,”) and, Johnny Mercer (“That Old Black Magic,” “Blues in the Night,” “One For My Baby”).
On the Sunny Side Of the Street ~ (McHugh, Fields)
Denise is forever sunny when she leads us down this familiar boulevard, music by Jimmy McHugh, one of the 30s finest and Dorothy Fields a trailblazing woman in the music industry and a very successful lyricist.
I’ve Got You Under My Skin ~ (Porter)
In contrast to Irving Berlin, the Gershwins and most of the middleclass composers and lyricists of the period, Cole Porter was born wealthy, yet able to overcome this handicap and write some of the most memorable songs of the period. Only Porter, Berlin and Frank Loesser were courageous enough to write not only their music, but also their lyrics.
Tickletoe (Young, Basie, 1939)
Lester Young was one of the two great tenor saxophonists who blew into Harlem with the Count Basie Band, and one who would live to be among the most influential players emerging from the Swing Era. Saxophonist Charlie McCarthy is featured on this exuberant “Prez” number.
Love For Sale (Porter, 1930)
Like his first hit “Let’s Do It,” Cole Porter enjoyed pushing the thematic limits. Love For Sale traced the weary existence of a savvy, wistful professional. It was said that nothing gave Cole Porter greater pleasure than raised eyebrows. The censors rewarded him by banning it from the airwaves!
Mood Indigo ~ (Ellington, 1931)
Duke Ellington’s earliest steady engagement was at the Cotton Club in New York, a famous gang-run establishment that had an all white audience and all black entertainment. Ellington’s Orchestra was known as “The Jungle Band,” featuring muted horn effects by Bubber Miley, Duke’s first great trumpeter.
It was out of this same atmosphere that, in 1931, Mood Indigo was born. The year marked a turning point for the Duke, away from the Cotton Club and the “Jungle Band” style and toward an identity based on Duke’s increasing complex compositions and the band’s growing popularity.
Honey Suckle Rose ~ (Waller, Razaf)
One of the cheery, light hearted songs of Fats Waller that seemed to fly out of his nimble fingers. Writing with lyricist Andy Razaf, the best of them were instant hits. Waller himself, one of the truly great stride piano players, enjoyed a popularity second only to that of Louis Armstrong.
Georgia On My Mind ~ (Carmichael)
Hoagy Carmichael, native of Indiana, often harkened back to the rural; whether it was “Memphis in June,” “Moon Country,” or “Lazy River,” you could usually fine a moon or a hayfield in it someplace, especially when he teamed with lyricist Johnny Mercer (“Skylark”).
Take the A Train ~ (Strayhorn, 1941)
Billy Strayhorn’s composition, which became the Ellington theme and remained so for years, began as a sketch Strayhorn penned on the subway on his way to Ellington’s house in Harlem, an audition piece for joining Duke’s band as an arranger.