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!
Weather today around the US:
Salt Lake City: 74
Washington DC: 62
Franklin, WI where I live: 39 and an all-day wintry mix
I’ve often said our SE WI area doesn’t have spring. One day’s it’s 45 and drizzling and the next we wake up and it’s sunny and 80. Cheer up. According to Accu-weather.com May looks pretty nice.
Until then, we wait.
This week, the music of spring, whatever in the world that is.
When I hear pianist David Benoit I think of Vince Guaraldi. Similar easy-going style. He also composes, arranges, and directs a wide range of music, including classical, straight-ahead jazz, contemporary jazz, bebop, hip-hop, and Broadway.
In 1989 his Waiting for Spring album was much more straight-ahead jazz than his previous works. The executives at GRP were concerned that he was moving out of the realm where he had previously found success. Benoit held his ground, and the album went to number one on the jazz charts for eight weeks.
This year Benoit enjoyed a personal dream of releasing an album with a 12 piece big band.
Benoit has over 20 chart-topping radio hits and has scored music for film projects for such icons as Clint Eastwood and Sally Fields. He also scored soundtracks for such television shows as “Peanuts” and for Broadway and symphonies.
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…
“Not the next Ella or Sarah, but the first Sophie Milman. The sky’s the limit for this exceptional young talent.”
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.
Tickets are still on sale for Stewart’s appearance on Thursday, July 7th, at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater on the Summerfest Grounds in Milwaukee.
Goodness knows what reinvention we’re in store for.
BTW, Stewart is now 77 and has had 8 children with 5 different women.
“You’re not allowed to call anybody ‘darling’ or ‘love’ – that’s all out the window now,” Stewart told a San Francisco columnist late last year. “I think that they’re friendly terms, as long as it’s not shouting across the road, ‘Allo, darling, what you got in that basket? All the girls in my band I call darling, and I don’t think their husbands or boyfriends are offended. I call men friends darling. I call Elton [John] darling.”
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.
Have a great weekend.
We close with an orchestral waltz by Johann Strauss II.