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Dave Brubeck Quartet and Carmen McRae: Take Five

I’ve got one more anthem for you. Jazz is the most originally American style of music and if there is a jazz tune that everyone identifies with that genre, it is “Take Five”, written by alto sax man Paul Desmond and performed by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

 

Originally released in 1959, it was two years later when they re-released the song that it took off and remains the biggest selling jazz single of all time. It has been used in dozens of films, tv shows, theme songs, and remains one of the most played tunes on jazz radio stations.

McRaeInfluenced by Bulgarian and Turkish street rhythms that they experienced while on a State Department tour of Eurasia, Brubeck and Desmond played with incorporating the 9/8 syncopation and minor keys they heard while overseas. It is sexy, flirty, sultry music, where you can almost see the lights dim, the room fill with smoke, and here the rocks clinking in the cocktail coming your way.

But did you know the song had sultry lyrics to match the tune?

Carmen McRae recorded the 1961 version with the quartet and her dark, edgy sound, gives the song a completely different feel.

Upon his death in 1977, Paul Desmond left the performing rights royalties to “Take Five” and all of his compositions to the American Red Cross. To date, the Red Cross receives approximately $100,000 per year from Mr. Desmond’s bequest.

Here he is, playing that piece which is the signature of what great jazz can be, both the 1959 recording and a groovy live performance from the same era. Sit back, pour a cocktail and ease into your weekend.

Norworth/von Tilzer: Take Me Out To the Ballgame

I love baseball. Seriously. Love. Baseball. I’m sure there are many of you who know the pure joy of sitting in the stands on a warm summer day, watching the home team play with verve and amazing athleticism, sipping an ice cold drink, and eating food that is totally deliciously bad for your waistline. And then comes the 7th Inning stretch, where everyone is encouraged to stand up and pretend to show your own hot-dog-and-beer-soaked athleticism by stretching your arms above your head. The park organ (or more likely a sound system these days, sadly) begins to play the lead in to a song that might be the most familiar of all the songs I’ve featured this week. Everyone in the park sings along with “Take me out to the ballgame”, the national anthem of America’s favorite pastime.

ballgamecoverYou know it, don’t you? I’m sure you know the chorus. The interesting history on this tune is that is was written by a guy who didn’t really care for sports and didn’t see his first baseball game until 30 years after he wrote these lyrics. Jack Norworth was a vaudevillian, best known for his dance routines. He was an amateur song writer on the side, much like Francis Scott Key. But Norworth was entrepreneurial, always looking for the idea that could sell. The story goes that in 1908 he was riding the train and saw a poster advertising “Baseball Today at the Polo Grounds!” He mused a bit on what could be a more fitting example of a shared “good time” than taking in a ball game, and scribbled down a few verses. He took the text to his frequent collaborator, composer Albert von Tilzer (not a sports fan either) who saw the potential for a hit, came up with a bouncy quick melody in about an hour, and they were off, as they say, to the Polo grounds.

It became an instant hit, sheet music and piano rolls racing off the shelves and was adopted for use at ball parks around the country. But most of us only know the chorus:

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.

There were verses for this piece, but they fell by the wayside over time. But ever commercial in their approach, Norworth penned lyrics about a young lady who wanted her beau to take her to the park, rather than the movies. He changed the girls name and wove in some product placement over time (beyond being very responsible for keeping Cracker Jack in business), but those verses faded into history.  Here is Edward Meeker, with the full song and the original recording of the hit tune (lyrics for the verses below):

Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad.
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev’ry sou [common slang at the time for low-denomination coin]
Katie blew. . .

On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she’d like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said “No,
I’ll tell you what you can do.

Hope springs eternal for Cubs fans. One of the most beloved and beleaguered teams in the sport, they play in an amazing old cathedral of baseball, Wrigley field in downtown Chicago, one of the last places to get lights and start playing night baseball. Harry Caray was the booth announcer, head cheerleader, and spirit animal for the Cubs forever. Ok, not really, but he will forever be the voice of the Cubs to me. His leading of take me out to the ballgame, accompanied by the live organ, is the quintessential version of the song. So stand up, reach above your head, and sing along with Harry.

Play ball!

Verdi: Va, pensiero

There is another “unofficial anthem” that I have a great fondness for – mostly because Verdi wrote it. Italy had several National Anthems dating back to 1871, though the current anthem “Il Canto degli Italiani” was adopted in 1946 in the post WW2 declaration of the Republic. However, even before that original anthem was adopted by the Italian government, Giuseppe Verdi was writing operas that some believe were laced with some political sentiment and ideas (see “O mia patria” from Aida if you want to get a dose of that).

Verdi1841 was a tough year for Verdi. He had recently lost his wife and small children. He was under contract with La Scala to write another opera, even though his previous work had been considered a flop. He was handed a libretto and told to write on that – a collection of old testament stories that told the tale of Jews being persecuted and exiled from their homeland by King Nebuchadnezzar. The text that convinced Verdi he could write this piece was that of the Hebrew slaves chorus, “Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate” or “Go, thought, on wings of gold”. It is said that the first time it was sung in rehearsal, “the stagehands shouted their approval, then beat on the floor and the sets with their tools to create an even noisier demonstration”. Nabucco became Verdi’s first grand epic opera and a testament to his love and passion for country, as seen through the eyes and story of another long plighted people separated from their homeland.

It became an unofficial political song that was sung everywhere in Italy, in East Germany and around the world. The opera often stops at the point of the chorus and repeats so that the audience can sing along. As recently as 2009, it was discussed in the Italian government to be officially designated as the National Anthem.

It begins softly, in unison, and slowly grows, splitting into harmonic parts. The second section pulls back down to a quite minor, then swells grandly to the main chorus, in unison again. It finishes as quietly as it starts. Easily singable, in the middle of the vocal range, and a catchy, memorable tune with that classic Verdi three/four pulse underneath of it in the orchestra. But it stands on its own without accompaniment very well.

Verdi funeral 1When Verdi died 60 years later, he was initially buried in a temporary grave, but was eventually moved to the Home for Retired Musicians cemetery, a place he had originally created. Some 300,000 people gathered in the streets and as Verdi’s remains were solemnly processed to their final resting place, the crowd spontaneously began to sing “Va pensiero” as his casket passed them. The power of that image, that kind of social unity expressed through song, is quite amazing.

Verdi funeral 2There are so many amazing versions of this song, especially since it comes from an opera that has had some spectacular production recordings, but I’m quite fond of the recorded version conducted by Giuseppi Sinopoli, a wonderful Italian conductor and composer who was a great interpreter of Verdi’s work. He died not long after this recording, on the podium conducting Aida in Germany, away from his own homeland.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCGbNVbJr-Q

Berlin: God Bless America

Kate Smith on her CBS Radio Show The Kate Smith Hour

Kate Smith on her CBS Radio Show The Kate Smith Hour

Speaking of anthems, patriotic songs and sports events, there has recently been a bit of upheaval in the sports reporting world about the singing of “God Bless America” (or the playing of it, at least) during the 7th Inning stretch at baseball games. Major League Baseball suggested every team play the song during the stretch after 9/11 to help with healing and national unity. There are some who now feel it is a bit of overkill at this point, as it is not the official National Anthem. I would argue, we are always in need of some healing these days.

The thing is, it is a much more singable tune with descriptions of the whole, wide ranging and diverse country. It was written by Irving Berlin, a man who could write a tune. And even though he didn’t think it was his best work (Berlin was quoted as saying he thought the song was maudlin and depressing), when Kate Smith asked him to write something for her radio show, something patriotic as war loomed large on the horizon of 1938, he dusted this one off and gave it to her. The rest, as they say, is history.

Irving Berlin at his piano

Irving Berlin at his piano

Here’s a fact I’ll bet you didn’t know: Irving Berlin never made a dime off that song, which says something for one of the most prolific writers of the time in the commercial music biz. In 1940, Berlin created the God Bless America Fund and all royalties have gone to the fund to support the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America (things you learn being a Girl Scout for 13 years). The song remains under copyright until 2034, though I believe is now more focused on the New York City scout services.

In researching this week’s posts, I was just going to mention the Banner (see July 4 post) but I spoke with a number of folks while taking a very unofficial Laura Lee Survey. This is where I randomly ask various smart and unique people what they think. From the lady at the Performing Arts library at the NYPL, to my server at Pig ‘n’ Whistle, from the halal cart guy in my neighborhood, to Sandy the Coffee Cart man at my office, when I asked what is the most patriotic song for them, without hesitation, they all said “God Bless America”. And when I asked why, for many of them, it had to do with asking for a blessing on the place where they live, their home. They all just assume the God you are talking to in that song is their God, whatever faith they may be, which I think is cool.

LLEWell, Mr. Berlin, you may not have thought it your best work, but it sure has resonance for the rest of the country. And it must have started to feel good to him – watch this version of Berlin himself, on the Ed Sullivan show in 1968. It is charming, and heartfelt from this 80- year old Russian Jewish immigrant, who grew up on the Lower East Side and gave us so many of the songs creating backbone of the Great American Songbook.

For those of you who may not have seen or heard the great Kate Smith version (interlaced with images of This is the Army, a 1943 film starring Ronald Reagan), here it is and is also well worth watching.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEJo7x9y3D4

Francis Scott Key: The Star Spangled Banner

Happy July 4th, everybody! America’s birthday, Independence Day, the day famously commemorated with over-eating, fireworks and some spectacular musical celebrations that include the playing of our National Anthem.

flag

Fireworks illuminate an American flag above Fort McHenry in Baltimore Sept. 13, 2014. The pyrotechnics display was among the highlights of Star-Spangled Spectacular, a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s National Anthem.

Most countries in our world have a National Anthem, though that English term was coined at the beginning of the 19th century. Speaking of the English, they started it. The first national hymn, march or fanfare was noted in 1745, when ‘God Save the King’ was sung at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. I always thought they had been around as part of a national culture (like the flag, motto or crest) from much earlier in history.

Many of them are settings of a motto or creed and let’s face it, generally not great literary texts. Conversely, many of them are patriotic lyrics set to well known tunes, often popular because they were church hymns given cheeky lyrics as pub tunes, so the public stood a chance of knowing it well enough to sing along.

Take our own American National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner. As a girl from Baltimore, birthplace of this particular text, written as Francis Scott Key on a boat out in the Chesapeake Bay impatiently waited for the smoke to clear around Fort McHenry, I know a bit about this tune and its history.

key1

Key, a lawyer and Washington DC insider, was a very good negotiator and an amateur poet. But he wrote this particular text as lyrics, not a straight up poem, clearly set to be sung to a pretty well known British pub tune. Good thing, since Key’s family said he was near on to tone deaf. This might explain why he picked a tune that is nearly impossible to sing well due to the extremities of the range, but easy to belt out with great patriotic fervor when you are half in the bag and no one cares if you hit all the notes.

It’s vocal complexities aside, there is something that gives me great pride in hearing or singing “The Banner”. It is a song that tells a story about a scrappy, fledgling country that 38 years after declaring their independence was still fighting its way clear to freedom in 1814. Filled with anticipation; will that flag be there when the smoke clears? Did those troops in Baltimore hold it together through fire and rain? Yes, yes they did. Call me a sap, but it always makes me a little teary and reminds me that I believe in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Many opera companies and theaters do still open their season with the singing of the National Anthem here in the US, but I think as a nation, we are most familiar with the singing of the anthem at the beginning of major sports events. We’ve heard them all, good, bad, and otherwise, from the famous Jimi Hendrix riff to kick off Woodstock, to the show stopping Jennifer Hudson version that is just a TAD over produced. I love a big chorus version and a full band version can bring the house down. But in the end, a single voice, singing it well, with a great sense of pride, respect and love is what I think does our anthem the most justice. I give you my friend and colleague, Joyce DiDonato, from the 2014 World Series Game Seven. She hit it out of the park.

Happy Birthday, America. Go sing about it!

Joyce Di Donato at 2014 World Series Game 7

Strauss: The Composer’s Aria

LLE headshotThis week our SoTD curator is Laura Lee Everett, the Director of Artistic Services at OPERA America, who’s had a long and varied career in opera—stage managing, mentoring young artists, facilitating the creation of new works, and more—at companies all across the U.S., from Alaska to Virginia.  (She’s also helped NYFOS present our NYFOS Next series at the National Opera Center for the past few years. You can catch it there in February 2016!)  Thank you and welcome, Laura Lee!

It has sure been a pleasure and a challenge to curate this week’s entries for the NYFOS Song of the Day. Thank you, Claire Molloy, Charles McKay and Steven Blier for all the wonderful work you do and for the generous invitation to participate. I can’t wait to have you all here at the National Opera Center in February for NYFOS Next!

My last song is the amalgam of all the wildly varied influences in my life and the base, core reason that I do what I do for a living. I love music. Full stop. It is as essential to me as water, blood and air. I am lucky enough to spend most of my time around some really excellent artists telling beautiful and amazing stories through music.

RSNothing brought this home to me more clearly than the first time I worked on Strauss’ opera Ariadne auf Naxos.

There are not nearly enough comedic operas in the classical canon, in my humble opinion, and I thoroughly enjoy this show not only because it is comedic, but also because it is a bit “inside baseball” about the trials and tribulations of working with artists and all their temperaments. In a nutshell, an aspiring opera composer is about to have his work premiered at a fancy dinner party his patron is throwing and learns that his glorious creation must share the stage with a troupe of comedians. Adding insult to injury, the major domo has just informed him that dinner is running late and in order for both performances the patron has paid for to be delivered, they must do so simultaneously in order to be done in time for the fireworks. Act 2 is the combined performances, followed by fireworks.

At the end of the first act, just at the point when the whole thing could come apart at the seams, the moody, emotional, young composer has a supremely honest conversation with the flirtatious lead comedienne about the loneliness of performing and the love we all seek in those fleeting, magical connections with likeminded souls. Flush with love, he embraces his music teacher (who he had nearly fired just before this scene) and sings the aria “Sein wir wieder gut”. I believe the words and music are self-explanatory.

Be my friend once more!

Be my friend once more!
With eyes new opened, I see what was hidden.
The depths of existence – who is there can plumb them
My dear friend,
there are many things in the world
which cannot be expressed in speech.

The poets put down very good words, quite good words
And yet, and yet, and yet –!
Courage is in me, my friend!
The world is beautiful,
and not frightening to the daring man.

And what then, is music?

Music is the holiest art,
which unites in sacred bonds all who can dare,
Like Cherubim guarding a radiant, shining throne!
And that is why she is the most sacred of the arts

Oh, sacred music!

The first time I heard this aria performed live, I knew I had made the right choice with my career path and no matter what, I would do something that involved music for the rest of my life. For me, it will always be, the holiest of the arts.

The role of the composer is a pants part, a woman (usually a mezzo soprano) playing the role of a young man. There are many great performances of this piece, but there will never be another artist the likes of Tatiana Troyanes. From 1988 at the Metropolitan Opera, the Composer’s Aria.

Pink Martini: U Plavu Zoru

LLE headshotThis week our SoTD curator is Laura Lee Everett, the Director of Artistic Services at OPERA America, who’s had a long and varied career in opera—stage managing, mentoring young artists, facilitating the creation of new works, and more—at companies all across the U.S., from Alaska to Virginia.  (She’s also helped NYFOS present our NYFOS Next series at the National Opera Center for the past few years. You can catch it there in February 2016!)  Thank you and welcome, Laura Lee!

I really like songs from other places that have a distinct sound and feel to them that tells you where they grew. One of the greatest things about so many of my peers and colleagues is that they are not from here, meaning the United States. It allows me to learn about music from other cultures, with other sounds and languages. In turn, I learn about the people from those places, cultures and religions through their ears, their music.

A friend was playing a song at a party that caught my ear and I said “WHAT is that? I love it!”

PM.pngThis “small orchestra” from Portland, Oregon of 12-14 musicians writes their own songs in at least 10 languages. Thomas Lauderdale, a classical pianist from Indiana and China Forbes, a singer with a gift for languages, co-wrote most of the songs that the band performs. Their sound is wonderfully eclectic and diverse, designed to bring people together around the piano. They have many a story telling song painted with the sounds of other lands and cultures. And they are fantastic live, often performing with symphony orchestras around the world.

The song of theirs that I find both beautiful and haunting is written in Croatian. I have no idea how to translate it. But the cello (played brilliantly by Pansy Chang from Vienna, Virginia), the driving rhythm section and the color of the piano lines make me listen to it again and again.

U plavu zoru                                               At Blue Dawn
Tiha noc                                                        Silent night
Sjene su u bijegu                                        shadows are in hiding
Ja cujem zvuk                                              I hear a sound
Sta blize zove me                                       that’s calling me closer

U plavu zoru                                                 At blue dawn
Sa svjetlom, tu                                             with a light, there
Na mojo vrata                                              at my door
Ti stizes                                                          you’re coming
Naci ces                                                          You will find
Praznu postelju moju                                my empty bed
Dok vlak nosi                                               while the train is taking
Me’ daleko                                                    me far away

Mozart: Ach, Ich Fühl’s

LLE headshotThis week our SoTD curator is Laura Lee Everett, the Director of Artistic Services at OPERA America, who’s had a long and varied career in opera—stage managing, mentoring young artists, facilitating the creation of new works, and more—at companies all across the U.S., from Alaska to Virginia.  (She’s also helped NYFOS present our NYFOS Next series at the National Opera Center for the past few years. You can catch it there in February 2016!)  Thank you and welcome, Laura Lee!

Opera vexes me.

I love working on new operas. Collaborating on premieres by Carlisle Floyd, Dominic Argento, Lee Hoiby, Jake Heggie and John Musto is extremely exciting. It is also exhausting.

I love working on “bread and butter” repertoire: Aida, Butterfly, Carmen, Tosca. Blood, sex and violence, tunes you can hum – great pieces, to be sure. But I grow weary of them when I repeatedly work on the same pieces. I did 6 productions of La Traviata in 9 months and it liked to have killed me. But there is one thing I never tire of, that constantly challenges me musically and emotionally and makes it clear why I love this art form.

MThere is nothing with stronger roots to ground me to music than Mozart.

To some, I know that sounds a bit clichéd, but after 25 years of working on everything from Montiverdi to Howard Shore, Mozart cleanses my palette and feeds my soul. When hearing singers in training, Mozart is the place you cannot hide. His arias will show everything you can or cannot yet do with your instrument and your imagination.

Mozart knows how to tell a good story. He picked several of the most controversial of his time to set to music. His skill was in telling stories that exposed all facets of human relationships and the emotions are all written in the music. I have several favorite Mozart operas, but the top of my list is Die ZauberflöteThe Magic Flute. You may poke whatever fun you like about that (opera purists – looking at you) but it is a show that I both performed in and worked on many times and I always take a great emotional journey through the piece. One aria in particular can be the single most devastating and beautiful piece of music – Pamina’s only aria “Ach, ich fühl’s”. Rare for a Mozart ingénue to only have one aria, but it is so powerful and unlike so much else of his writing. It stands as the one moment in the piece where she completely gives in to despair, yet makes a clear decision to end her life, thus driving responses from everyone around her in the story. There are titles on the attached video, but here is the translation:

Ah, I feel it, it has disappeared
Forever gone love’s happiness.
Nevermore will come the hour of bliss
Back to my heart!
See, Tamino, these tears,
Flowing, beloved, for you alone.
If you don’t feel the longing of love
Then there will be peace in death!

Pretty heady stuff for a comic singspiel written for the public theater house. This song always makes me think of Benedict’s mocking line about love songs from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing:

‘Is it not strange that sheep’s guts could hail souls out of men’s bodies?’

In times of woe and sadness, this piece does just that for me.

Here is a somewhat fuzzy video, but with titles in English, of Kathleen Battle performing in the 1991 production from the Metropolitan Opera, James Levine conducting. (Francisco Araiza as Tamino and Manfred Hemm as Papageno).


(The aria starts around 2:00 mins into the clip)

Billy Joel: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

LLE headshotThis week our SoTD curator is Laura Lee Everett, the Director of Artistic Services at OPERA America, who’s had a long and varied career in opera—stage managing, mentoring young artists, facilitating the creation of new works, and more—at companies all across the U.S., from Alaska to Virginia.  (She’s also helped NYFOS present our NYFOS Next series at the National Opera Center for the past few years. You can catch it there in February 2016!)  Thank you and welcome, Laura Lee!

My classical music training started at the piano, which I played under the brilliant tutelage of Betty Wertz Hines until I left home for college. “Know the classics and you can play anything” was her advice that I continue to learn from and pass on. While Scarlotti, Chopin, Schumann and Mozart filled my classical ears, I loved to listen to pop radio. In the era when popular music was beginning to morph from rock and roll to disco (which is the grandmother to technogroovy dance music without a lot of depth), my favorite songs were the ones with stories. I had been influenced by that American songbook, but also by many of the folk acts of the 1960’s that my father really loved. The Kingston Trio, The Mamas and the Papas, the New Christy Minstrelsthey were storytellers who sang.

All of this rolled together equals Billy Joel.
BJ

He is a fierce piano player; he is clearly influenced by classical, folk, rock and roots. He writes all his own songs and every one takes me on a journey through a story. The Stranger was the first album that I ever bought with my own money. While there are so many fantastic Billy Joel songs, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant could actually be a mini rock opera. The music tells you where you are in history and the instrumentation choices create the landscape. He has the band with the chops to make real. It is a story about things that we all know, or have experienced, or just want to be able to sing about, out loud, at the top of our lungs.

Gershwin: Embraceable You

LLE headshotThis week our SoTD curator is Laura Lee Everett, the Director of Artistic Services at OPERA America, who’s had a long and varied career in opera—stage managing, mentoring young artists, facilitating the creation of new works, and more—at companies all across the U.S., from Alaska to Virginia.  (She’s also helped NYFOS present our NYFOS Next series at the National Opera Center for the past few years. You can catch it there in February 2016!)  Thank you and welcome, Laura Lee!

When my good friends at NYFOS asked me to curate the song list this week, I thought, “too many choices!”

I happened to bump into Charles McKay, managing director for NYFOS, and mentioned my thematic dilemma. Charles said, “You are the theme— tell your story of songs.”

My musical talent comes from my paternal grandparents. My grandmother was a wonderful concert pianist who played all over Colorado. Her husband, my granddaddy, played violin, clarinet, sax and sang in a rich baritone. He worked his way through law school as a bandleader. His band, Hume Everett and his Radio Recording Orchestra, toured dance halls in Colorado and Texas and appeared regularly on the KLZ radio broadcasts from the Brown Palace in Denver. He even proposed to my grandmother on the radio show with the popular 1922 Walter Donaldson song My Buddy.

HE(Granddaddy is that handsome fellow in front with the baton.)

My maternal grandparents, while not musicians themselves, were great lovers of the big band sound and “played a mean stereo.” They frequented Baltimore venues, like the ballroom at the Belvedere Hotel, and often came to New York to dance the night away with the Dorsey brothers’ bands.

JD(Jimmy Dorsey holiday photo signed to my mother in the 1950’s)

My childhood was filled with the music of the American Songbook: the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Carmen Dragon conducting the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra, Count Basie, Chick Webb, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller. I wore out those records by playing them repeatedly so I could learn to sing along. But the thing that stuck with me, compelled me to get the sheet music and really learn to “sing a tune”, was listening to Ella Fitzgerald. I was mesmerized by her technique, her accuracy, her ability to swing and scat – every time I hear her bright, warm voice it lifts my soul. For me, she will remain the timeless core of the American sound.

EF

Songs make impressions on my life because of their creators. Composer, lyricist, arranger and performers come together at a particular moment and create a singular performance that stands out like no other. My teacher in college had moved me from mezzo-soprano rep into the contralto realm just before I quit studying voice to pursue my career as a stage manager. She knew I loved jazz standards and recommended me to a local band that was looking for a singer to do a gig that had arrangements in Ella’s keys. The song they asked me to start with was EMBRACEABLE YOU, George and Ira Gershwin’s 1928 tune from an unpublished operetta East is West. It was eventually included in the Broadway musical Girl Crazy where Ginger Rogers performed it in a song and dance routine choreographed by Fred Astaire. Billie Holiday’s 1944 recording, likely the most recognized, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2005. But the version of this song that stays with me always is this one:

1959 Ella Fitzgerald sings the George & Ira Gershwin Songbook with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra  https://itun.es/us/4NRo

Thank goodness there are so many wonderful songs that Ella recorded. But there is something about this pure, uncluttered love song from two of the finest American songwriters of the 20th century, interpreted by this team of amazing musicians, sung by an extraordinary lady from Yonkers that makes me smile and sing along.

New York Festival of Song • One Penn Plaza • #6108 • New York, NY 10119 • 646-230-8380 • info@nyfos.org