Saturday, July 26, 2014

Torch From Berlin

Diana Krall photo diana_krall_zps83903673.jpg Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald photo Ella_Fitzgerald_and_Louis_Armstrong_zpse473a70a.jpg
Billie Holiday photo Billie_Holiday2_zps9be31392.jpg Judy Garland photo judy_garland_zps0c2f3592.jpg
Clockwise: Diana Krall; Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald; Judy Garland; and Billie Holiday.

After last week's foray into the Blues, I return once again to Jazz for our Saturday night entertainment. Inspired by the Johnny Mathis song from this morning, I once again returned to the well that has kept my Saturday nights in great music, with my muse for the evening, Irving Berlin. As a composer, Berlin has written great songs for some of the greatest characters of the 20th Century, and some of the greatest singers of the time. Tonight I will begin with a song made famous by the amazing Fred Astaire, and danced to by Fred and his partner, Ginger Rogers. The song was written for the 1936 film 'Follow The Fleet', starring Fred and Ginger. Sixty-three years later, "Let's Face The Music And Dance" was recorded by Diana Krall in 1999, for the album 'When I Look In Your Eyes'. Krall has a wonderful sultry style, which is truly on display on this recording. This is the official music video of Diana Krall singing 'Let's Face The Music And Dance'.

While Berlin wrote for many of the great stars of the 1930s and 40s, once again I go back to the quintessential stars of the period, Astaire and Rogers, from the 1935 film, 'Top Hat'. While few could deliver "Cheek to Cheek" with the suave style that is so easy for Fred Astaire, when I heard the recording used here, I got really excited. Whenever you combine the talents of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, how could you go wrong? You can't. Please enjoy Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong singing Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek", recorded in 1956.

"Always" was written in 1925, meant to be a wedding gift to his wife, Ellin. The two were married in 1926, and they were together until her death in 1988. Berlin had assigned the rights to this song and others to his new wife, ensuring that if something happened to him, she would still get money from his income stream of songs. In 1958, the song was recorded by the great Billie Holiday, and it is really very special. While many took it slow, Holiday made it a mid-tempo song, putting a bit of swing into the ballad. This is Billie Holiday singing "Always".

The final song of the evening is another that was introduced to the public in a Broadway score, before going on to a life of its own. "What'll I Do", written in 1923 and appeared in the show 'The Music Box Review' of the same year, as well as in the show for the 1924. It was a hit with the audience, and proved to have staying power when it was sung by the great voices in music for decades to come. In fact, it was sung by the great Judy Garland on her television show in 1964. Yes, forty years later,the song was still entertaining audiences. This is Judy Garland singing "What'll I Do" on 'The Judy Garland Show'.

Hope your weekend is allowing you to soar!

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