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JazzWax 10 Favorite September Songs

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JazzWax 10 Favorite September Songs

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With the arrival of September, summer is unofficially over and autumn is sort of here. It’s just a matter of time now in New York when the temperature will downshift into the low 70s and then the 60s. Apples, suede and boots follow, with Central Park turning color and the distant smell of brownstone fireplaces on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. So today, I figured I’d welcome the ninth month with 10 of my favorite September songs:

Here’s Artie Shaw in 1945 on September Song. Most later versions of this song take it way too slow. Shaw gives the song the fox-trot treatment, which adds spirit and animation…

Here’s James Moody in Paris in July 1951 recording September Serenade for French Vogue backed by strings arranged and conducted by Andre Hodeir. Listen for tags of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Round Midnight and Moody’s own Moody’s Mood for Love...

Here’s the Sauter-Finegan band in February 1954 recording Eddie Sauter’s September’s Sorrow

Here’s Jo Stafford singing a glorious swinging version of September in the Rain in the mid-1950s. Best of all, it comes with a smart arrangement by husband Paul Weston. Stafford sings backed by flutes conversing with fleshy trombones and chrome trumpets, a wandering piano, chiffon strings and winding down with billowy reeds and a muted trumpet tag at the tail end… 

Here’s Helen Shapiro on the BBC’s Top of the Pops in 1963 singing Carole King’s It Might As Well Rain Until September

Here’s Tony Bennett in 1965 recording Maybe September for his Movie Song Album. The song was written by Jay Livingston, Ray Evans and Percy Faith for a film called The Oscar...

Here are The Happenings in 1966 singing See You in September, with a Four Seasons voicing…

Here’s Johnnie Taylor in 1974 singing Dennis Gilmore’s It’s September

Here’s Earth Wind & Fire in 1978 singing their hit September

And here’s Barry White in 1978 singing September When I First Met You

       

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JazzWax 10 Favorite September Songs

JazzWax Mary, Peter and Aretha

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At The Wall Street Journal,
it was a busy writing week. For my “House Call” column, I interviewed photographer Mary McCartney, daughter of Paul and Linda McCartney (go here). Mary talked about her family’s secluded stays in western Scotland when she was a child in the 1970s, and she told me the story behind the famous photo of her as a baby inside her father’s shearling jacket (above). The famous image was used on the back cover of Paul’s first solo album, McCartney, in 1970.

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For the Life & Arts pages,
I interviewed Tony Bennett and Diana Krall separately in advance of Love Is Here to Stay, their new duet album due out September 14. The album features 12 songs by George Gershwin (go here and here). If you missed my JazzWax post on my conversations with Tony and Diana, go here.

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And for the weekend Review section,
I wrote a think piece on TV’s Peter Gunn, which first aired 60 years ago in September (go here). As I write in my piece, the private-eye series created by Blake Edwards introduced cool to television. Unlike earlier TV detective shows, Gunn wasn’t a rumpled, morally bankrupt detective ruthlessly running down the facts. Instead, Craig Stevens  was purposefully cast against type. He was hatless, virtuous and modeled after Madison Avenue executives. Best of all, his office was a table at a jazz club called Mother’s, where his girlfriend, Edie (Lola Albright), sang. My favorite scenes feature Gunn sitting down at Mothers to listen to Edie. When people wanted to talk to him, he’d raise his hand slightly signaling to wait until Edie was done. My kind of guy. Want all three seasons on 12 DVDs? Shout Factory just released a box! Go here.

Here’s Gunn in action…

And here

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If you see something,
say something. I typically write my JazzWax posts in the evening, after a long writing day. Despite a second read early the next morning, typos can creep in. So if you see a letter missing or any other error, please email me so I can fix it. JazzWax is free. All I ask is that you let me know if letters have escaped from the words that brought them to the dance. Thanks in advance.

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The Queen of Soul radio.
Chris “King” Cowles recently hosted a tribute to Aretha Franklin during his weekly Saturday Greasy Tracks show on WRTC-FM in Hartford, Ct. To listen, (go here).

Here’s Chris’s playlist…

Hour 1:

Try Matty’s

So Swell When You’re Well

Baby I Love You

Sit Down And Cry

Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)

Taking Up Another Man’s Place

See Saw

Rock Steady

Respect

Call Me

Love The One You’re With

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Hour 2:

Share Your Love With Me

Eleanor Rigby

Make It With You

Don’t Play That Song

You’re All I Need To Get By

Dr. Feelgood

Spirit In The Dark

Spirit In The Dark Reprise (with Ray Charles)

Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)

I Take What I Want

When The Battle Is Over

New albums you should know about:

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Jason Fabus Trio—Splanky. This Los Angeles trio features Jason Fabus on alto saxophone, Shane Savala on guitar and Nick Ornelas on bass. Jason has done his share of listening to Benny Carter and other alto greats. Lyrical jazz with a swinging feel. Go here and Spotify.

Here they are on their new album playing Neal Hefti’s Splanky, recorded originally by Count Basie in 1957…

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The Whispers—Whisper in Your Ear, The Whispers and Imagination
(Robinsongs). In 1979 and ’80, the Whispers recorded three solid soul-disco albums. All three plus six bonus tracks are on this two-CD set. Solid songs by the Los Angeles vocal group include And the Beat Goes On, It’s a Love Thing, Jump for Joy, Whisper in Your Ear, Lady, Girl I Need You and many others. What beautifully produced soul sounded like at the tail end of the disco era. Go here.

Here are the Whispers on Girl I Need You

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Victoria—Joueuse
(Twilite Tunes). I can’t recall who sent along this EP or how it landed on my desk, but it grabbed me and held on. Singer Victoria Meyer isn’t French—she apparently works for NASA in Pasadena, Ca. But she knows her Yé-Yé, a French pop-rock style from the early 1960s that distilled the Liverpool sound and was pioneered by Francoise Hardy and other female singers in Paris. Meyer was produced here by Andy Paley, who has worked with Madonna and Debby Harry. The result is drum-driven French pop meets surf and go-go dragster. Can’t wait for Victoria’s full album in this genre. Go here or Spotify. For more on Victoria Meyer, go here.

Here’s C’est Un Tombeur

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Lurrie Bell & the Bell Dynasty: Tribute to Carey Bell
and Tribute (both Delmark). These two blues albums will get your juices going. The Bell kin Lurrie, Steve, Tyson and James pay tribute to their father Carey Bell, the late, great blues harpmaster. Special guests include Charlie Musselwhite and Billy Branch. Tribute is an album of newly recorded blues celebrating the Delmark label’s 65th anniversary. A long list of down-home artists playing superior blues. Go here and here.

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What the heck:
Back in 2000, Tony Bennett and Diana Krall toured, with Diana playing piano and singing. Man, these two should have been recording duet albums a lot sooner. I just hope they recorded enough extra material for another album beyond the one that’s coming on Sept. 14. How hip is Diana! Here’s Tony and Diana together at Quail Lodge at the Meadows in Carmel, Ca…

Oddball album cover of the week.

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Ken Griffin was an organist who, in the early 1950s, hosted a weekly TV show called 67 Melody Lane, which featured guest performers. Any closer and our chap with the pipe would have to turn the pages on Ken’s Wurlitzer. Also, how in the world did our set-watchers wind up with crystal clear reception? Come to think of it, where are the rabbit-ears antenna? And for a guy without a wedding band, he probably could have come up with something a little more entertaining.

       

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JazzWax Mary, Peter and Aretha

JazzWax Videos: Irish Jazz Guitar

JazzWax Videos: Irish Jazz Guitar

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The dean of the jazz guitar in Ireland was the late Louis Stewart. Ireland has a special place in its heart for the jazz guitar that probably has a lot to do with the music’s poetry and the intimate relationship artists seem to have with the instrument, especially on ballads. Here are a handful of Irish jazz guitarists I found on YouTube…

Here’s Louis Stewart with the Phil Ware Trio playing Four

Here’s Hugh Buckley…

Here’s Buckley in action…

Here’s Charlie Mooney…

Here’s a band called Zaska…

And here’s Louis Stewart, once again…

A special thanks to Ollie Dowling in Dublin

      

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JazzWax Electrifying Clip: Cute Tomato

JazzWax Electrifying Clip: Cute Tomato

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In March 1955, producer Ozzie Cadena was given the green light by Herman Lubinsky, the owner of Savoy Records, to record a session with drummer Kenny Clarke and arranger-saxophonist Ernie Wilkins. Cadena had a bit of an agenda. Three of the songs he wanted waxed were his. When he met with Clarke and Wilkins, they went over all of the songs they planned to record. In addition to Cadena’s three, Wilkins brought in three gems and the seventh was Now’s the Time, a blues taht gave Clarke an opportunity to take an extended solo. Wilkins did the arranging.

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Next, they needed musicians. Wilkins (above) called in a sterling group to fill out the ranks. The personnel featured Eddie Bert (tb), Ernie Wilkins (as,ts,arr), George Barrow (ts,bar), Cecil Payne (bar), Hank Jones (p), Wendell Marshall (b) and Kenny Clarke (d).

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Interestingly, all three of Wilkins’s compositions and arrangements would easily have been masterpieces for Count Basie. Wilkins had recently left Basie over the band leader’s preference for arranger Neal Hefti. One of Wilkins’s stunners on the Cadena-produced album, Plenty for Kenny, was Cute Tomato. The soloists on the song, in order, are Eddie Bert on trombone, Cecil Payne on baritone saxophone, Ernie Wilkins on tenor saxophone, Hank Jones on piano and Wendell Marshall on bass.

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Here’s Cute Tomato, which has a Give Me the Simple Life feel. It’s 11 minutes of bliss from Ernie Wilkins. The writing is delicious, Clarke (above) is terrific and the solos are sublime. And we get to hear Wilkins’s blowing on tenor, offering up a rich and smokey tone…

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