There wasn’t really anthing particularly upbeat about lockdown, and even now with a few tourists back on Lanzarote, there are no live arts yet taking place. With all that time on my hands, though, I was able to sit at my computer in a zoom conference with former co-presenter of all across the arts on Crescent Community Radio in the UK. He runs the show on his own now, since I came here five years ago, but we took the opportunity of being locked down in our homes to create a jointly hosted radio programme. This is virtually how the choices and decision making took place.
You know Norman I think it might be time for another of our virtual Jazz radio shows, this time to mark the turning of the seasonal cycle one more notch to summertime.
Hey, Steve, you know, it’s pretty much summertime all year long here on Lanzarote, and with long warm nights, and slow cold beers, a deserted beach, a gentle in-coming tide and a cooling breeze, its pretty hard to get the blues over here.
You’d have thought, though, that it would have been just as difficult for a teenager growing up in the rock and roll years in America to contract a disease like The Summertime Blues. Still, there’s good and bad in all things, and when Eddie Cochran voiced his complaints about how hard life can be for your average teenager he did, in so doing, give us one of the great rock and roll records. Let’s have a listen, and see if we can create a summery, sorry summary, in music as we move into the summer season.
(Play Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran)
It makes me smile a little bit when I think that this great, young, cool rock and roll dude sat down and wrote that song with his manager and, by simply compiling a short list of all the things that teenagers have complained about ever since teenagers were invented, created one of the world’s great rock songs.
Some forty years after it came out as a single on Liberty records, the song was inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in America. Sadly, Eddie Cochran wasn’t around to see that happen, of course. He died in the UK in 1960 when a taxi carrying him to a gig crashed en route.
Well, as Mick Jagger once said, “Its only rock and roll, but I like it.” However, spring has sprung and summer simmers and in the world of jazz, thinking of summer tunes would be incomplete without the famous, “Summertime” but my dilemma is, which version and by whom. After much head scratching I have decided it has to be you, Ms Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong. Let´s have a listen.
(Play Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong)
You hear how that is smooth and mellow but still bursting with power as Ella takes on board Louis’s playing and scatting, and then an orchestra breezes in and blows through this magnificent setting of a song.
Summertime shouldn’t be about the blues, Norm, but should be a happy time! These are times to enjoy of hot days, sultry nights eating alfresco and holidays. Instead we are dogged still by the corona virus and its lockdown blues. Let’s bring back the happy times…..
Well, hang on, hang on,……………..you know the trouble with summer is that you can have all the cool jazz sounds you can find, but sometimes summer really is just Too Darn Hot, and if you don’t believe me, just listen to what Mel Tormé has to say about it
(Play Too Darn Hot by Mel Tormé)
I know what Mel Torme has to say about summer because I’ve heard it all being said before, not least by the aforementioned Ms. Fitzgerald on her album, Songbook. Too Darn Hot was actually written by Cole Porter for the Broadway musical Kiss Me Kate, but what´s with all the complaining about having the blues or the weather being too warm? Why can’t people just be grateful, like Benny Goodman and his Orchestra of 1937 were with, I Want To Be Happy. Just sit back and enjoy.
(Play I Want To Be Happy by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra)
Harry James had just recently joined the Goodman orchestra, reinforcing an ensemble which already had a strong Horn section called The Million Dollars Trumpet Trio. On this recording, we are treated to the exquisite rhythm work of Allan Reuss as well as strong drumming by Gene Krupa. The campaign for happy times starts here.
Yeh, I agree, that’s great. So what can I find that will match the mood? Now what is it I love doing in the summertime? Well, I like to go down to the beach and watch,… let me see,….and watch
(Play the Girl Frim Ipenema by Kenny G)
And let me be specific,… this isn’t just jazz, this is a Brazilian bossa nova. It was a worldwide hit of the mid sixties that saw this song by Antonio Carlos Jobim, with lyrics, in Portugese, by Vinicius de Moraes, win a Grammy in 1965. It was performed there by Kenneth Bruce Gorelick, better known by his stage name Kenny G, an American jazz saxophonist.
His 1986 album, Duotones, brought him commercial success and Kenny G is now one of the best-selling artists of all time, with global sales totalling more than 75 million records. He’s not loved by the jazz mainstream however, with artists like Pat Methany accusing him, in so many words, of selling out to pop music. Nevertheless, those are my happy days, down on the beach watching the girls in bikinis strolling by.
Well, let’s have a `Dixieland` classic now to mark the return of those happy days, marshalled in by Benny Goodman, and Kenny G I suppose, with the turn of Bud Freedman and His Summa cum Laude Orchestra with, “Fidgety Feet.” So push back the sofa and chairs, throw abandon to the 2 meter rule and DANCE like you did before.
Mind if I stand this one out Norman?
(Play Fidgety Feet by Bud Freedman and His Summa Cum Lauda Orchestra)
You must be thirsty after all that dancing, Norm. Shall I order Cocktails for two now?
Oh, I don´t do all those lah de dah drinks,…..just pass me a big beer while we listen to something a bit smoother. Maybe a little bit of Nat King Cole, to celebrate these these lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.
(Play Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer by Nat King Cole)
There is something in his voice that sings of summer, isn’t there, but if I think back to when I was a kid all my early Memories of Nat King Cole are of him playing piano with his jazz trio.
I didn’t know all this when I used to listen to him as a child with my dad, but somewhere along the way it must have registered with me that this trio wasn’t like The Beatles at all, because they didn´t have a drummer. The trio was formed in 1937, as I know now, when Cole arrived in Los Angeles, seeking professional work as a musician. That trio included Oscar Moore on guitar, and Wesley Prince on double bass. There was definitely no Ringo, but it was that absence of percussion that made the Trio unique among the other swing / jazz outfits seeking work in that era. Nat King Cole always made everything seem so effortless and had perhaps the loveliest male voice I’ve ever heard, and he is also maybe the greatest jazz pianist I have ever heard. He even wrote Those Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer, which was musically then arranged by Ralph Carmichael.
I´m back with the drinks. Not my treat, though. The drinks are on Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra because they recorded Cocktails For Two in (1938), so by the way I didn´t tell them you preferred a beer. So they bought us these cocktails but they look pretty refreshing to me and I bet they pack a hell of a kick.
Cocktails For Two is a song from the Big Band era, written by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow. The song debuted in the movie Murder At The Vanities (1934), where it was introduced by the Danish singer and actor Carl Brisson. Duke Ellington’s version of the song was also recorded in 1934 and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007.
The song seems to refer to the ending of Prohibition in the United States. Mentioned discreetly in the song’s introduction is that people could be “carefree and gay once again”. The song was written in 1934, and the 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition, was ratified in December of the previous year.
So, we whilst we sip these Sidecars through our straws, let´s listen appropriately to Cocktails For Two by Tommy Dorsey And His Orchestra
Sip our Sidecars through our straws? What are you on about? What the heck is a Sidecar?
A Sidecar is a cocktail,….all the sophisticats on the jazz scene used to drink them, and in places like The Cotton Club. Try not to slurp, please,… I want to listen.
(Play Cocktails For Two by Tommy Dorsey And His Orchestra)
Thomas Francis Dorsey Jr., to give him full name, was an American jazz trombonist, composer, conductor and bandleader of the big band era. He was known as the “Sentimental Gentleman of Swing” because of his smooth-toned trombone playing. His theme song was I’m Getting Sentimental Over You. His technical skill on the trombone gave him renown among other musicians. He was the younger brother of bandleader Jimmy Dorsey. After Dorsey broke with his brother in the mid-1930s, he led an extremely popular and highly successful band from the late 1930s into the 1950s. He is best remembered for standards such as Opus One, Song Of India, Marie, On Treasure Island and his biggest hit single, I’ll Never Smile Again.
Well, my final number is probably not what you, or anyone, would call jazz and is by an artist best remembered for writing Daydream Believer for The Monkees. It is, however, a song I associate with a feeling of summer, so I´ve chosen to play John Stewart’s Summer Child. Along with Black Velvet, this might be the most erotic pop song ever written,…..but when I think of the summer months of my teenage years, this is the girl I remember. I wish !!!
(Play SUMMER CHILD By John Stewart)
That’s one of the great stories of summer, I think. If John Stewart could have ever made up his mind whether he really wanted to be a folk singer (he started out with The Kingston Trio) or a song writer, (when he left the Trio he wrote Daydream Believer for The Monkees) or a country singer, (his early solo albums like California Bloodlines were solid country) or a rock star, (he subsequently recorded sound-alike Fleetwood Mac albums with members of that band) his greatness in any of those genres might not have been diluted by his diversity. He was a great story teller in song, though…..
You want to hear story about summer? Then, if you´re sitting comfortably I shall begin. Once Upon A Summer Time
(Play Once Upon A Summer Time by Miles Davis)
You know me by now Norman. When have I ever chosen a listing of jazz tunes and missed out the man with the golden horn? That was Miles Davis in a blue mood on Once Upon A Summer Time, a song written by Johnny Mercer, Michel Legrand, Eddie Barclay and Eddy Marnay. I feel it suits my mood at this time.
Hang on, just a minute there, boy….. I know that name, that Michel Legrand chap was brilliant. He had a couple of big summer time hits in the UK and was a composer really, but he also wrote The Windmills Of Your Mind that was in the film of The Thomas Crown Affair, recorded by Noel Harrison, and was a great, great song of its time, and a hit right around the world.
I knew that, Norm, and was just about to say so. Anyways, moving on, Once Upon A Summer Time was taken from Quiet Nights, the ninth studio album by jazz musician Miles Davis, and his fourth album collaboration with Gil Evans, released in 1964 on Columbia Records. Recorded mostly at Columbia’s 30th Street Studios in Manhattan, this was to become the final collaboration between Davis and Evans.
I have an idea for another programme, Steve. Michel Legrand’s sister used to be in The Swingle Singers, a really good, versatile a capella choral group. A programme about Michel’s music and her Swingle Singer recordings would be great.
Yeh, sure Norm. Leave it with me. I´ll think about it. No. no, don’t call me. I’ll call you,…..perhaps. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with the full playlist of this ´virtual´ show so you can let everyone know about it.
What’s it called, then, this album that doesn’t exist yet, that is really just a blog album pretending to be a radio programme, or the other way round,….what are we even going to call it?
I guess just call it Music For the Sunshine Days. Stick that at the top of your page. That would do nicely. Here, it’s all typed up for you very neatly. It will fit on to Lanzarote Information very nicely. I’ve even put my details on the bottom, so people know where to get hold of me for more information about my radio shows. And until the tourists return on full planes and all the pubs and beach bars and restaurants open again they can tune into my show, Hot Biscuits, and even compile their own playlist of this programme we’ve just done. That should keep them going till we’re back in full swing.
MUSIC FOR THE SUNSHINE DAYS
Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran
Summertime by Ella & Louis
Too Darn Hot by Mel Tormé)
I Want To Be Happy by Benny Goodman & Orchestra
The Girl From Ipenima by Kenny G
Fidgety Feet by Bud Freedman & Orchestra
Crazy Days Of Summer by Nat King Cole
Cocktails For Two by Tommy Dorsey & Orchestra
Summer Child by John Stewart
Once Upon A Summer Time by Miles Davis
Tracks selected by
Steve Bewick of Hot Biscuits
Norman Warwick of Sidetracks & Detours