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Heartthrobs: A Valentine’s Day Dance Party

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Fred and Ginger in the 1935 movie Roberta. Photo courtesy of classicmoviestills.

For centuries, songs have been written about every imaginable twist and turn in the adventure of love. Tonight, Riverwalk Jazz presents songs from the first half of the 20th century, covering many phases of love—from smitten to torrid, to heartbroken and hopelessly in love. Songs showcased on this broadcast cover the gamut and include:

 

The flirty, slangy “I Won't Dance“ by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields was featured in the 1935 romantic comedy film Roberta with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Our version is an instrumental featuring trombonist Mike Pittsley of The Jim Cullum Jazz Band.

 

London-based vocalist Nina Ferro joins Jim and the band on a pair of lush torch songs from George and Ira Gershwin, “The Man I Love“ from 1924 and “Someone to Watch Over Me,“ from the 1926 stage musical Oh, Kay!

 

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Trombonist Dan Barrett. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Known for the melodic sound he coaxed out of his horn, jazz trombone great Vic Dickenson made the Gus Kahn hit song “All My Love“ famous in the jazz world. Guest trombonist Dan Barrett salutes Dickenson, as New Orleans’ Banu Gibson takes the vocals on this classic love song.

 

Australian cornet master Bob Barnard gives composer Hoagy Carmichael’s immortal ballad “Skylark“ a soaring romantic interpretation. Here, Barnard’s cornet sound recalls the lyricism of the great Bobby Hackett.

 

Jazz singer Topsy Chapman reminds us what it’s like to be helplessly in love with a tune from the singing of Billie Holiday, “I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me.“ Brian Ogilvie’s tenor saxophone solo is a salute to the melodic style of jazz sax giant Lester Young, who frequently joined Billie in the recording studio.

 

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Topsy Chapman. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The swinging “If We Never Meet Again,” a 1936 songwriting collaboration between Louis Armstrong and Horace Gerlach, is performed by The Jim Cullum Jazz Band on this broadcast with soloist Nicholas Payton demonstrating the influence Armstrong has had on his ballad playing.

 

“It's Been a Long, Long Time“ was composed in 1945 by Jule Styne and Sammy Kahn. It earned trumpeter Harry James a hit record when his rendition became a favorite of soldiers returning home from WWII. Here, The Jim Cullum Jazz Band is joined by three guests—Dan Barrett on trombone, Connie Jones on trumpet and Jack Maheu on clarinet.

 

“Stormy Weather“ is the title song of the storied 1943 movie, but the song itself—composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Ted Koehler—was introduced in Harlem’s notorious Cotton Club floorshows of 1933. Stormy Weather, the movie musical, was a premier showcase for African-American musical and dance talent of the era, and featured a memorable scene with Lena Horne singing the title track. On this broadcast, Broadway’s Carol Woods takes the vocals.

 

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Stormy Weather movie poster image courtesy of imdb.

Bandleader Duke Ellington famously described trumpet master Clark Terry’s playing as “beyond category.” Ellington first recorded “Don't Get Around Much Anymore“ in 1940 as an instrumental under the title “Never No Lament.” Two years later, Bob Russell added lyrics and gave it a new title. The Ink Spots had a #1 hit with the revised version on the R&B charts in 1943.

 

“All the Things You Are“ was first introduced in Jerome Kern’s unsuccessful 1939 stage play Very Warm for May. The song quickly entered the jazz world with landmark covers by Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey. The form and harmony of the tune, migrating through several different tonal centers, makes it an ideal vehicle for jazz improvisation. Through the decades the tune has been recorded by virtually every major jazz player, in every style of jazz, including tracks by Django Reinhardt, Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown and Sonny Rollins among many others.

 

Photo credit for Home Page: Nina Ferro. Photo courtesy of the artist.

 

 

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