A Musical Way to Deal with Disappointment

I was looking forward to getting together with friends tomorrow, but for various reasons the gathering was canceled.  I’m disappointed, certainly. However, I’ll see them all again soon.

Anyway, the Gershwin tune “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” came immediately to mind and helped me to smile inwardly on a day that only got more hectic as it went on.

The song is from the film Shall We Dance, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I’ve never seen it, but one day soon I will. The first version is from two favorites–Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. The second is a scene from the film.



Happy Birthday, Tony Bennett!

I was reminded by ABC News this evening that today is Tony Bennett’s 90th birthday. Later on the Empire State Building will light up in his honor. Way to go!  He’s awesome. I just found the CDs so I can play them for my aunt. We’ve seen him in concert a couple of times. In many articles and interviews today, he said he still has a lot to learn. That’s the way to look at life.

And I always loved that he is a serious painter…and very good, too.

Here are my two top favorite Tony Bennett songs. But how can anyone really choose? They are all so good.

  1. Steppin’ Out with My Baby:

And, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”:

Ella Fitzgerald — Moonlight Serenade

I’ve always liked Ella Fitzgerald. I have two CDs of her “American Songbook” collection, but I haven’t played them in a while. A friend posted the following YouTube video recently–her version of “Moonlight Serenade.” I have only heard instrumental versions of the song before now. Enjoy!

John Coltrane — “Giant Steps”

A longtime jazz fan, I have always regretted not having any of John Coltrane‘s work in my music collection. I always promised myself that I would one day buy his album called My Favorite Things. Now I’ve promised myself another: Giant Steps. The library just got a new copy, and it seems to be very popular among patrons.

Nicknamed “Trane,” he was and still is considered to be one of the best tenor saxophonists. Coltrane’s style of jazz was bebop. Giant Steps is a recording of his own compositions. As I listened, I felt energized by the melodies, not bombarded with noise. It made me happy. By its very nature, jazz is improvisational. Just as a musician might do alternate versions of a song or melody, as Coltrane did here, listeners have to play it more than once to get the most out of a recording. Sometimes certain phrases or notes will catch your ear, and you respond differently each time.

Here are favorite compositions from Giant Steps, including the title track:

“Syeeda’s Song Flute”:

“Mr. P.C.”:

Here is the full album of My Favorite Things. But I still want to get a real CD of it at some point.

Gershwin’s Cuban Overture

I’ve always liked Gershwin’s Cuban Overture because it has so much energy, is very tuneful, and makes you want to dance. However, you may not want to do all that at 7:00 in the morning. This piece, like a cup of coffee, will get you going in the morning. Of course, if you don’t feel like getting up, just turn off the radio and go back to sleep for a bit–if your schedule allows it.

Locally, this piece was on the program at Strathmore one night several years ago. Sadly, we couldn’t get tickets.  Maybe someday…

It’s fun listening to the Cuban Overture to guess which instrument is being played during the various parts. And it’s also interesting to see how different orchestras interpret the same music. The first video is from someone’s recording. The second is Lorin Maazel conducting the Cleveland Orchestra.




In Honor of the First Day of Fall….

Yesterday, September 24th, marks the first day of fall.

Whenever I hear the phrase “Autumn Leaves,”  I always think of the Miles Davis version. Here it is:

My own fall memories include collecting leaves and making collages of them in school. And there were school camping trips in the fall. Locally, we have a lot of red maples, and watching the leaves change is very pretty. At least twice i helped my aunt rake leaves–or at least I tried to. Little kids enjoy running through piles of leaves. If there’s a crab-apple tree in your yard, it’s fun watching the seeds fall. We used to call them helicopters because they resembled tiny propellers. And I always think of hot apple cider, although we don’t always buy it.

We went to Vermont and West Virginia on two separate Thanksgivings to visit family. The leaves hadn’t fallen much then,and we got great pictures when taking the scenic routes. Later, on a trip to Montreal, we saw a lot of silver maples on the train ride up. They were gorgeous!

I hope it will be a happy season.

History Repeating

This blog started out dedicated to classical music. I still want to keep it to that, but so much music I enjoy comes from all over the place. So, I guess whatever catches my ear is OK.

I did stay within genre on Tuesday, when I listened to the NSO’s opening ball concert on WETA. Joshua Bell was a featured guest,  and I also enjoyed Ravel’s Bolero.

I don’t really know why I enjoy this jazz song from the Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey. It was originally released in 1997, and has taken on new life in a Talbots commercial. Something about the rhythm and the song styling, along with an air of mystery. It feels very hypnotic. I hope some of you enjoy it, too.