Posts Tagged ‘Ella Fitzgerald’

I was looking for a song for this morning that might relate to Valentine’s Day since it is only a few days away. I wanted something that wasn’t too schmaltzy or too on the nose. And something that you might not have heard before.

I went through all of my favorites first and, while there were plenty of choices there, most of them were a little too well known. Then, as I was listening to another artist on YouTube– Louis Jordan rocking out on Caldonia— I noticed a song on the side, in the suggested-for-you videos that line right column of the screen.

Instantly, I knew this was the right one.

It’s  Ella Fitzgerald doing a horned up version of the classic Sunshine of Your Love from the 1960’s band Cream, which featured Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker.

What more can you ask for? You get the undisputed Queen of Jazz rocking out a love song from the seminal rock power trio of the 1960’s and nailing it hard. You can’t do much better than Ella.

Happy Valentine’s Day right in your face.

It makes me smile. Hope you like it as well and that you have a good Sunday.


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Warming It Up

I like winter. The cold and the snow don’t bother me as a rule. But in these extended periods of cold, when the temps hover around zero and below with the winds making those temps feel even more perilous, I long for warmer weather. 30 degrees sounds like a balmy heaven at this point. Light jacket weather.

But you live with the weather you have. When life gives you frozen lemons, you make frozen lemonade. Lemon squishies?

So, it’s a cold and quiet landscape outside my studio windows and I’ll revel in the hard beauty that is there while I feel a little warmth from this morning musical selection. When it comes to warmth, Ella Fitzgerald singing Gershwin’s immortal Summertime from Porgy and Bess fills the bill for me. When the livin’ is easy…

Enjoy this performance, think warm and have a great day.

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GC Myers- Signals 2006It’s Sunday morning and I want to play one of my all-time favorite songs, Nature Boy.  It’s an extraordinary song from an unusual character by the name of eden ahbez, who I have written about before here on the blog, who wrote the song specifically for Nat King Cole.  The story of ahbez and how the song came into the hands of Nat King Cole is really interesting but the result was a glorious rendition of the song by Cole that remained locked on the charts at #1 for eight weeks in 1948.

Spare and elegant, it is an absolutely gorgeous song which I think is evidenced by the many, many fine versions of it through the years by a wide range of artists.  I thought for today I would stray from the Nat King Cole performance, as perfect as it is, to focus on versions by two other giants of jazz, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis.  The first video is a wonderful piece of animation from artist Ros Lukman that has the inimitable Ella Fitzgerald accompanied by guitarist Joe Pass.  Just a great version as is Miles Davis’ interpretation  which is immediately below it.

Relax and give a listen. Have a good Sunday…

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GC Myers- September Song sm

GC Myers- September Song 2014

August has finally and thankfully passed.  You would think as one gets older you would want to hold on to every moment–every day, week and month– but August never passes quickly enough for me.  This distaste for August has given September an almost magical appeal.  The very sound of the word feels cool and easy in my mind.

Relieved from the hard edges and sharpness of August, September brings cooler air and falling leaves.  Time passes just as quickly but there is a calmness which allows for reflection.  In September, I often find myself stopping and just standing,  looking into the sky and absorbing the moment, glad to just be where I am.

Maybe that’s why I love the old song September Song.  It’s a wistful reflection on the passing of time and aging.  Composed by Kurt Weill, it was written for  and  first recorded by Walter Huston for the Broadway play Knickerbocker Holiday in which he plays Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of New Amsterdam (present day New York) in the 1600’s.

The play didn’t have much success but the song, written for Huston’s limited vocal range and rough voice, has lived on as one of the great standards of modern music, recorded by scores of artists over the years. Today I thought I would play a beautiful version from the one and only Ella Fitzgerald.  As I look out of my studio window, it is cool and foggy and the words and sound of this song just feel so right for the first day of September.

Have a great day.

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black coffeeTime for some Sunday morning music and since I was up extra early this morning the idea of something to pick me up seems like a good idea.  Something like some black coffee.

Not the drink, though I am sipping my coffee as I write. I mean the song.

The sultry Black Coffee was written in 1948 by Sonny Burke and originally recorded by Sarah Vaughan and a few years later by Peggy Lee. There have been many, many covers of this song and most are very good. But there are four versions that really stick out for me, all very distinctly different. They are Vaughan’s original, the one from Peggy Lee, k.d. lang‘s darkly twangy version and the one I am featuring this morning from the great and grand Ella Fitzgerald.

Her version is elegantly spare with her voice and piano interweaving beautifully. It is darkly tinged but there is such strength in her phrasing that it keeps the song feeling surprisingly upbeat. Just a great, great song.

A little bit of trivia about this version: It was the favorite song of Nobel Prize winning poetess Wislawa Szymborska , who requested it be performed at her funeral. You might remember Szymborska from a blog entry here last month that featured her poem Possibilities.

So,give a listen as you sip the morning beverage of your choice.  Maybe a little black coffee…

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2014 GC Myers Season Filled with ColorI am wishing all of you out there a wonderful Christmas holiday.  I hope that you find the spirit of season and carry it with you through the new year and beyond.   And that spirit is philanthropy.

Philanthropy is a word that seems only attributed to billionaires and large charities that benefit may people.  But it is a concept that anyone can adapt on a personal level.  As a word, it means a “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing “what it is to be human”.  In these terms, each of  us can be philanthropists by whatever means are available to us because it is truly about a generosity of spirit.

It’s a spirit that is more evident during the holidays but it doesn’t have to be reserved only for a short period of time in each year.  Smiling.  Engaging with people, listening, practicing patience and helping those in need in whatever small ways you can.  None of these things seem like a big deal in themselves.  But on an enduring daily basis they can change the world around you.

And maybe that small step will lead to something bigger.  Hey, it’s worth a try.  Be a philanthropist.  What have you got to lose?

In the words of the song:  Have yourself a merry little Christmas.  Here’s a great version from the one and only Ella Fitzgerald.

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  This song is That’s a Rockin’ Good Way sung by Dinah Washington and Brook Benton amd it made it to #7 on the Pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts in 1959.  I heard this song on the radio yesterday and it made me think about Washington’s career and legacy.

Known as both the Queen of the Jukeboxes and Queen of the Blues, Washington was one of the biggest recording stars of the 1950’s, singing jazz, blues and pop songs with her earthy delivery.   Her body of work is impressive yet she is seldom mentioned alongside the other jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday.  In fact, she is little known today which is a shame not only because so many are missing out on her vast talent but because her story is such a compelling story. 

There are all the elements of great drama in her biography, her rise from a poor girl in Alabama to her great success as a major recording artist being only one aspect.  There were all the men in her lives including 8 or 9 marriages, depending on which source you believe, and a number of other lovers.  There was her battle with drugs and alcohol as well as a struggle with her weight which led to emotional swings that found her fighting with everyone around her, including her fans at times.  There was the constant struggle with her record company for the respect she deserved.  She had a big, big personality and finally seemed to be coming into her own as an artist when an accidental overdose brought her life to a close in 1963.  She was only 39.  There’s a nice concise bio online from jounalist Dean Robbins that I recommend.

So, here’s just a small sample of her talent.  Hopefully, her legacy will continue to grow…

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