This month's Song Of The Month is one I love to call when I'm in the mood for a haunting, beautiful, slow swing tune. My band plays it in E, which seems to be a relatively unusual key in gypsy jazz. It was written by Jimmie Lunceford, Michael Morales & Sy Oliver. I remember my first exposure to it: pre-covid there was a bi-weekly gypsy jazz jam in Asheville and someone called it. I didnt know it & had no chart for it, but found the changes easy to follow & the melody intriguing. According to Djangopedia, Django recorded it 5 times between 1949 & 1951. I have it on the excellent box set Django In Rome & I'll post a link to a good Django version of it later in this thread. Other notable versions of it include those by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and if you like vocal jazz, Jo Stafford. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on it.
One of my favorites. For me, the ultimate version comes from Rocky Gresset:
And live version I've yet to hear myself
I've got mixed feelings on this tune - liked it a lot at first, but it got played so much in jams that I got sick of it! The form feels too long and it can drag if everyone insists on taking a solo, and the key is annoying. You could speed it up a bit and play it in F, but then you'd be playing honeysuckle rose... :)
The Django Rome version is a snooze fest (feels too slow, even for a foxtrot!), his 1950 version is better but still a little uninspiring. I'm not sure what Django was thinking recording this tune FIVE times at such a date, it must have been positively uncool by those years - when was the original, this 1934 one perhaps?
Probably my favorite version is from Stochelo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyYQY-kWsAk)
Eva sur seine album has a pretty version with soft vocals and a nice groove, but they've played wrong notes in that little part which joins the B section and the last A, and it always bothers me!
I hear you Wim, especially about how a slower tune like this can seem to go on forever at a jam. I always found myself pleased when the caller of a tune like this one stated something like "instead of soloing over the entire form, let's just take 8 bars each". Here's a link to Django's version from 1950 that I like--
I like the melody on this tune. There is just something sprightly about it, at least the Stochelo version that Wim refers to.
Regarding tempo, when I went back to the original 1934 Jimmie Lunceford version, it absolutely seems to plod. The jauntiness of the melodic intervals are still there, but it seems to groove more at Stochelo's tempo.
I wonder how much of this is us listening with "modern" ears. Often, especially when I know or learn to love the original versions first, the more modern versions at much faster tempos just feel like a flurry of notes with no soul. Music as a whole seems to have progressed towards faster tempos (i.e. Metallica vs. Black Sabbath, Guns N Roses vs. Rolling Stones, Eddie Van Halen vs. Chuck Berry, etc.) Maybe we've grown accustomed to hearing some of these songs at a faster clip. My guess is that my grandfather would have preferred some of the slower versions (though not interminable repetitions at a jam...)
Here's Jo Stafford's version. Quite slow (this tempo would be dreadful at a jam), but I find her version classy & soulful--
Beautiful! Who's playing tenor sax, Ben Webster?
It is Ben Webster. Good catch, Willie!
I have to admit that it's not my ear, but my memory. I was quite sure that I had read somewhere that Ben Webster partizipated on the album "Jo + Jazz".