This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
RICHARD RODGERS and LORENZ HART first met in 1919, when they were both at Columbia University. They were asked to write an amateur show, and just kept writing together after that.
Eventually they produced a couple of dozen musicals, a number of films and hundreds of songs until Lorenz died in 1943 at just 48 years old. Richard then teamed very successfully with Oscar Hammerstein but that's not pertinent to today's column.
This is a column of really mellow music. We need something like this every now and then.
My Funny Valentine is an odd sort of a song, a bit passive-aggressive if you listen to the words. Or is that just me being a bit up myself? Yeah, probably that.
It's been recorded by many over the years so others probably don't share my analysis of the song. This is one of the best of them by CHET BAKER.
It was one of his biggest sellers.
I was down to two versions of I Could Write a Book. Lovers of cool jazz will be disappointed that I finally threw out Miles Davis's version. People who know me well will be very surprised by that. The one that made the cut is by DINAH WASHINGTON.
There will be some who would think I made the wrong choice, but that's the way it goes in the music blogging business.
In contrast, there will be no argument about who should sing Mountain Greenery. Well, there may be but I will not listen to any. MEL TORMÉ is not only the obvious choice, he's the only one I considered.
This is from his excellent album "Live at the Red Hill", and he had the help of one of the best in the business, as you'll hear.
Oh my goodness, what an array of talent we have today, and there's more to come. Next up in that category is TONY BENNETT.
This is a really nice laid back arrangement, suitable for late night listening, of My Romance.
I've already done a whole column devoted to the song Blue Moon so I thought I'd use a version that wasn't in that one. Rather surprising to me, I omitted NAT KING COLE. Thus, he's an automatic choice today.
I would have preferred that he had recorded the song with just his trio rather than having all those warblers in the background but you can't have everything I guess. Nat makes up for it. Just about.
An instrumental track next from JUNIOR MANCE who has played with all of the great jazz performers of the last 50 years. Not just them, you can add in Buddy Guy, Aretha Franklin and other such performers as well.
Junior plays piano as well as anyone you can name and his contribution to our column is Falling in Love with Love.
BILLIE HOLIDAY performs I Didn't Know What Time It Was.
This is from the Ben Webster and Harry Edison Sessions that also had Barney Kessel along playing guitar. What a fine bunch of recordings this produced.
When I noticed that JOHNNY HARTMAN had recorded It Never Entered My Mind I stopped looking further.
There may be a better version but I'd find it hard to imagine. Besides, why would we want another?
As with Johnny, if JULIE LONDON is in the mix I'll go with her.
She certainly is today, with Where or When.
ANITA O'DAY wasn't going to be the "girl singer" in a band, she was going to be one of the musicians.
She succeeded admirably and appeared with most of the great jazz bands of the time but alas, took to drink and drugs, especially the latter, like too many of her contemporaries.
In spite of that, Anita turned out a solid body of work that includes You Took Advantage of Me.
Here is a bonus for you. I had selected all the songs and then remembered (or discovered) that I had forgotten about this next one. It's really a mandatory inclusion, but I didn't want to throw out any of the others. Besides that, I had already used MEL TORMÉ but having him twice is fine by me.
The song Manhattan first appeared in the review "Garrick Gaieties" in 1925. Since then it's been in more than a dozen films and been recorded too many times to recount. As an extra treat, here's Mel again.