Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy!
The first day of spring, officially referred to as the vernal equinox, arrived this year on March 20. That was over a month ago.
Spring didn’t really feel like spring though until earlier this week. So we must celebrate musically.
Let’s get started.
Carly Simon recorded an album of old movie songs in 1997. Famed film director Martin Scorsese wrote about the album on Simon’s website:
“Carly Simon displays a true feel for the music but also for the texture of these films and their moment in history. Her immaculately arranged interpretations of standards are respectful of their historical origins but at the same time possess a completely contemporary aura. In this lovely collection, Carly Simon pays tribute to everything that is lasting in these movies that continue to haunt our imaginations fifty years after they were made.”
Jimmy Webb co-produced the album and contributed vocals, orchestration and his work on the piano.
We open with a very appropriate song, especially this spring season, that was first featured in the 1944 film “Christmas Holiday” sung by Deanna Durbin.
That poignant duet is one of the many great tracks on the CD.
Toronto-based chanteuse Sophie Milman has been recording since 2005 when she quickly became Canada’s hottest young jazz singer.
When she was growing up, living in Israel (Milman had moved there from Russia where she was born), she developed an affection for Western singers.
“The first North American record I ever heard was Mahalia (Jackson),” she said. “At first, it freaked me out completely and I started crying. I said, ‘Dad, why are you playing this? It is so loud and so moving that I can’t handle it.’ Of course, my parents don’t do anything halfway; it’s always cranked up, full volume. We were probably the only Jewish family in Israel blaring gospel music out of our little apartment.”
Christopher Loudon wrote in Jazz Times:
“What would happen if you simultaneously poured drawn butter and warm honey over a block of dry ice? Since I barely passed high-school physics, I have no idea, but suspect the chemical reaction might be equitable to the sensuous sound of Sophie Milman.”
National Public Radio’s Scott Simon said “Sophie Milman has a classic jazz voice that evokes smoky lounges, softly clinking glasses and the cool of the night.”
From the 1945 film “State Fair,” a Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein collaboration…
“Sophie’s vocals soar with a sound that is rich, contemporary and controlled. Here’s a woman who’s not even 30 and it sounds like she’s been doing this forever.”
– Marc Andrews
This next song was composed by the great Irving Berlin in 1926 and was first performed in the Rodgers and Hart musical “Betsy, ” sung by Belle Baker. The play didn’t do very well, but this particular song was an instant favorite. It’s been reported that on the opening night of “Betsy” the audience requested that Baker sing 24 encores of that tune.
Soon after the song was included in the milestone film “The Jazz Singer.”
Here’s the re-invented Rod Stewart having a pretty good time with it.
Next, Nancy Sinatra hosted an NBC-TV special in 1967 that was called the “full-hour musical spectacular that won Nancy Sinatra the coveted Hollywood Star of Tomorrow award.”
This is a wonderful piece of TV variety history.
In “Movin’ with Nancy” her father sings a classic from the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “South Pacific.”
That’s it for this week’s segment.
Have a great weekend.
We close with Andre Rieu and his Orchestra and a Johann Strauss II classic.