South Carolina native John Dizzy Gillespie wrote this swinging tune in the 1940’s. It was one of the featured tunes in a 1947 film Jivin’ in Be-Bop. It was produced by William D. Alexander and stars Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra. Gillespie was born in Cheraw, South Carolina in 1917, the youngest of nine children of James and Lottie Gillespie. James was a local bandleader, so instruments were made available to Dizzy. He started to play the piano at the age of four. Gillespie’s father died when the boy was only ten years old. Gillespie taught himself how to play the trombone as well as the trumpet by the age of twelve. From the night he heard his idol, Roy Eldridge, play on the radio, he dreamed of becoming a jazz musician. He received a music scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in Laurinburg, North Carolina, which he attended for two years before accompanying his family when they moved to Philadelphia
The tune was composed for a radio broadcast in October 1930 and was originally titled “Dreamy Blues.” It was “the first tune I ever wrote specially for microphone transmission,” Ellington recalled. “The next day wads of mail came in raving about the new tune, so Irving Mills put a lyric to it.” Renamed “Mood Indigo,” it became a jazz standard.
“I Got Rhythm" is a song composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and published in 1930, which became a jazz standard. Its chord progression, known as the “rhythm changes”, is the foundation for many other popular jazz tunes such as Charlie Parker's and Dizzy Gillespie's Bebop standard “Anthropology (Thrivin’ From a Riff)”. The song came from the musical Girl Crazy which also includes two other hit songs, “Embraceable You" and "But Not For Me”, and has been sung by many jazz singers since. It was originally written as a slow song for Treasure Girl (1928) and found another, faster setting in Girl Crazy. Ethel Merman sang the song in the original Broadway production and Broadway lore holds that George Gershwin, after seeing her opening reviews, warned her never to take a singing lesson.
“Somewhere" is a song from the 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story which was made into a film in 1961. The music is composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and takes a phrase from the slow movement of Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Piano Concerto, which forms the start of the melody, and also a longer phrase from Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s final scene from the ballet Swan Lake. Retired Winthrop Professor, Robert Edgerton set this beautiful tune from one of the most popular musicals of the late 1950’s for choir. It takes my breath away every time I hear it!
This fun tune from the 1950’s will heat you up in a hurry! “Steam Heat" is a show tune from the 1954 musical The Pajama Game, written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The best-known recording was done by Patti Page. It was released by Mercury Records as catalog number 70380, and first entered the Billboard chart on May 26, 1954, lasting 9 weeks and peaking at #8.[ The song was later used as part of the Tony Award winning musical Fosse. The Pointer Sisters covered the song in 1974 on their album That’s a Plenty. Released as a single, it failed to chart but “Bubbled Under" the Billboard Hot 100 at #108.
“And So It Goes" is a ballad written by Billy Joel in 1983, though it was not released until six years later. It appeared as the tenth and final track of his megahit album Storm Front. The original 1983 demo was released on the 2005 box set My Lives[ Joel wrote the song about a doomed relationship with model Elle Macpherson. Their relationship was dramatic, as Macpherson was only a teenager while Joel was reaching his mid-30s. Joel dated Macpherson for a brief time shortly before becoming involved with model Christie Brinkley, who would ultimately become his second wife. In the original demo version of “And So It Goes,” Joel sings the melody simply and almost humbly, accompanied by a simple piano backdrop, in a style very reminiscent of a hymn.The single peaked at #37 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart in 1990. It has been covered by many subsequent artists (see “Cover Versions” below). The King’s Singers vocal harmony arrangements of the song set by Bob Chilcott is featured on this program.
From the film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? written, produced, edited and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, and John Goodman, with Holly Hunter and Charles Durning in supporting roles. Set in 1937 rural Mississippi during the Great Depression, the film’s story is a modern satire loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey. The title of the film is a reference to the 1941 film Sullivan’s Travels, in which the protagonist (a director) wants to direct a film about the Great Depression called O Brother, Where Art Thou? Much of the music used in the film is contemporary folk music.
"It’s a Good Day" is a popular song written by Peggy Lee and Dave Barbour and published in 1947. The song has been recorded by many singers since its introduction, most recently by Susie Arioli. The song was also recorded by legendary Judy Garland on a recording of The Judy Garland Show. The most popular version of the song is probably Perry Como's, released on his 1955 RCA Victor album So Smooth. The song served as the background score during the opening credits of Indian film director Rajkumar Gupta's 2008 debut film Aamir.
"The Nearness of You" is a popular song, written in 1938 by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics by Ned Washington. The song was featured in the Paramount film Romance in the Dark released in 1938. Starring John Barrymore and John Boles it was sung by the lead actress Gladys Swarthout of Metropolitan Opera fame. The biggest selling 1938 version was recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, with a vocal by Ray Eberle. This arrangement is by Columbian, Aletha Jacobs whose jazz styles have been heard throughout the Midlands. Aletha also teaches in the Pre-college studio at Columbia College.
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)" is a 1931 composition by Duke Ellington, with lyrics by Irving Mills, now accepted as a jazz standard. The music was written and arranged by Ellington in August 1931 during intermissions at Chicago’s Lincoln Tavern and was first recorded by Ellington and his orchestra for Brunswick Records on February 2, 1932. Ivie Anderson sang the vocal and trombonist Joe Nanton and alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges played the instrumental solos. The title was based on the oft stated credo of Ellington’s former trumpeter Bubber Miley, who was dying of tuberculosis. The song became famous, Ellington wrote, “as the expression of a sentiment which prevailed among jazz musicians at the time.” Probably the first song to use the phrase “swing” in the title, it introduced the term into everyday language and presaged the swing era by three years. The Ellington band played the song continually over the years and recorded it numerous times, most often with trumpeter Ray Nance as vocalist.