I spent a few days thinking about what song I would post in memory of Aretha Franklin. I liked I Say A Little Prayer, which Ann Althouse posted. But, that was originally Dionne Warwick’s song. Then, it occurred to me that when I think of Aretha Franklin, I remember You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman. It is all Aretha Franklin from the gospel piano to the powerful voice and the lyric. R.I.P.
This solo performance of Blue Moon by Art Tatum was recorded in 1955 and is on Disc 5 cut 2 on Art Tatum’s The Complete Pablo Solo Masterpieces, Compact Edition.
Blue Moon was written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1934. The song got off to a bumpy start having been rejected from two movies, mostly because of weak lyrics. Finally, it was used in the movie Manhattan Melodrama with a new lyric…and, as they used to say in those days, the rest was history. The first big record hit was sung by Connee Boswell on Brunswick Records. From then, it was a hit song numerous times in the following decades with a Who’s Who of artists.
Tatum works his intricate magic without losing the warmth of the tune.
That was his solo version Once In A While and Mama’s Gone Goodbye with the Russ Morgan Orchestra played by “The greatest guitar player you’ve probably never heard of,” George Van Eps. Van Eps was the Father of the Seven String Guitar. The conventional guitar has six strings to which George Van Eps added a seventh, in the bass register. Like Les Paul, he designed his own guitar and had it built by Epiphone. He also wrote a series of guitar instruction books on how to play the seven string guitar, published by Mel Bay. (Note: I am not the announcer in this cut.)
For a period of time the quiet sensuous guitars were giving way to the ear blasting banks of amplifiers and angry guitar smashing antics of the the rockers of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It was at this time, that I discovered George Van Eps.
One night on his Cobweb Corner radio program, Don Brown played a George Van Eps record — I’ll Remember April. I was astounded at the both the sound of the guitar and harmonic ability of Van Eps. I knew about many jazz guitarists, but I had never heard of George Van Eps.
This recording is from November 6, 1940 with John Hamilton, trumpet; Charles Turner, bass; Slick Jones, drums, Al Casey, guitar; Gene Sedric, reeds; and Fats on piano and vocal. The song was written by Spencer Williams (music) in 1924 and lyrics later by Jack Palmer. The first recording of note was an early 78 featuring Louis Armstrong with Clarence Williams’ Blue Five. Afterwards, it has been performed and recorded enduringly throughout subsequent decades.
These small groups performing with Fats were really terrific. The regulars here include Gene Sedric, Slick Jones, and Al Casey. Al Casey takes a rare solo here, which also gives Fats an opportunity for a joke. In those days, the guitar was primarily a rhythm instrument. A friend of mine who played Rock guitar in the early 1960’s said he once played an old unamplified orchestra guitar from the 1930’s and he said it was like playing on a set of steak knives. He was bleeding after a short while. I guess guitarists in those days build up thick calluses. The “good old days” were sometimes pretty tough.
One of the bittersweet tunes popular in the 1940’s and 50’s, although it was first written in 1932 by Sam Lewis and Victor Young.. My favorite vocal version of this song was sung by Lee Wiley, accompanied by Joe Bushkin on solo Piano. Written by Sam Lewis and Victor Young. This is from Vol 1 of the Tatum Group Masterpieces on Pablo with Benny Carter, alto sax, Louis Bellson, drums, and Tatum on Piano. None but the best. Norman Granz created a treasure trove when he made these records.
I used to Love You (But It’s All Over Now) is from a 1938 Radio Broadcast. The song was originally composed in 1920 by Albert Von Tizer with lyrics by Lew Brown. That makes it a teal oldie. The piano solo in this song reminds me of what Don Brown once said about Fats Waller: “He just cranks out these tiny jewels one after another.”
The song above is an instrumental version of Laura. It was issued on what turned out to be Nat King Cole’s fairwell to performing on the piano. Afterwards, he only made lush vocal albums with full orchestras. Poor David Raskin suffered while the money rolled in from royalties from the Spike Jones version I’ve played here (and will play again.) It wasn’t his fault that Spike Jones thought the lyric was silly; it was the lyric of the song that doesn’t stand the test of time. But I notice that the movie Laura is still highly rated and was so popular at the time that many girls born in the late 1940‘s were named Laura. Life goes on.
Well, I didn’t plan to stay away this long but I had quite a few things to do and I wanted to take my time and do it right. I converted the Windows 10 computer to Ubuntu-Linux. I can use Abiword in Linux which gives me the same ability to create posts as TextEdit did with Macintosh.
About the time I was ready to resume posting, some old family business came up in Minnesota so I took a cross country road trip and I took a few detours along the way.
I’m sorry to report that I’ll be taking time off from posting on this site until I can come up with a solution to the problems. I’ve been told that the Macintosh system I have been using with Firefox is no longer acceptable. But, I can’t upgrade Firefox because Firefox says my operating system is obsolete. I can’t upgrade my operating system because my computer is obsolete. Okay, TurboTax told me the same thing last year so I bought a Windows 10 computer. But, I’ve had all kinds of problems trying to post to this site from that computer because, for example, there is no version of TextEdit for Windows nor is there a comparable product for Windows. Without TextEdit, what takes me about a half hour to do takes all day. Phooey. Despite what the nerds say, there hasn’t been a good version of Windows since Windows XP. As with music, newer is not always better. Oh, and by the way, I switched to H & R Block this year for my taxes.
So, in the meantime, my older posts will still (hopefully) be available. I want to thank all of you for subscribing to my website. I hope I can resolve this soon. — Richard Rollo