Thursday, December 10, 2009

The MJ Show #6 (Jazz Standards)

What is a Jazz Standard?
Well wikipedia defines it thus:
Jazz standards are musical compositions which are an important part of the musical repertoire of jazz musicians, in that they are widely known, performed, and recorded by jazz musicians, and widely known by listeners. There is no definitive list of jazz standards, and the list of songs deemed to be standards changes over time.
Not all jazz standards were written by jazz composers. Many are originally Tin Pan Alley popular songs, Broadway show tunes or songs from Hollywood musicals – the so-called Great American Songbook. A commonly played song can only be considered a jazz standard if it is widely played among jazz musicians. The jazz standard repertoire has some overlap with blues and pop standards.

Now the reason these songs are called standards is because hundreds and hundreds of singers over the years have sung these songs. These days you've got brilliant singers like Michael Buble, Renee Olstead, Rod Stewart and many others who are still keeping these classics alive.
If I was given a choice, more than any other kind of music in the world, I'd love to be singing standards! I hope to have a concert of just standards some day soon :)
Incidentally, its songs like these that taught me whatever I know about singing. I grew up on them and I consider people like Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby as my teachers. :)
Hmmm. Let's see. Someday soon. I'll make it happen.

For now though, I'm going to feature my top 10 jazz standards of all time. Or the top 10 that are currently on my mind :)
Here we go in no particular order, the top 10 standards I like are:
(Damn was just going through the list of songs I love and its way more than 10. So lets just call this part 1 of the Jazz Standards special. Part 2 and 3 and more in the days to come.)
I've chosen versions of songs that I thought were really beautiful. Hope you enjoy them too :)

1st Song - Someone To Watch Over Me  #TheMJshow
"Someone to Watch Over Me" is a song composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin from the musical Oh, Kay! (1926), where it was introduced by Gertrude Lawrence. It has been performed by numerous artists since its debut and is a jazz standard as well as a key work in the Great American Songbook. 
This is a special song for me in many ways :) I'll leave it at that :)
Love it to bits :) Here's a fabulous version of the song that I really really love! 
This one's dedicated to @nehakarmarkar :)

2nd Song - The Way You Look Tonight #TheMJshow
This beautiful song written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy fields and was first used in a Fred Astaire-Ginger Waters movie called "Swing Time". It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936.
I've always loved this song and it is possibly one of my favourite standards of all time. I've loved pretty much all versions of the song that I've heard (Steve Tyrell, Sinatra, Michael Buble, Westlife and many more.)
Here's the original. Fred singing it for Ginger, as she takes a bath. Absolutely ethereal :)
This one's dedicated to Nandan who first introduced me to the song :)

3rd Song - Cheek To Cheek #TheMJshow
"Cheek to Cheek" is a song written by Irving Berlin, and first performed by Fred Astaire in the movie Top Hat (1935). Astaire's 1935 recording with the Leo Reisman Orchestra was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000.
While there are TONS of versions of this song, I chose a version to show you guys an absolutely incredibly talented young woman who passed away way too early. She died at the age of 33 but before she moved on to a better bigger gig, she gave us some incredible renditions of songs that we may know very well.
(Just search her version of Fields Of Gold by Sting on youtube and you'll see what I mean.)
Here she is, Ms.Eva Cassidy singing, Cheek To Cheek.
This one's dedicated to all you Sinatra fans. I know a LOT of people love Sinatra's version of this song :)

4th Song - Georgia On My Mind #TheMJshow
"Georgia on My Mind" is a song written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Stuart Gorrell (lyrics). It is the official state song of the U.S. state of Georgia. Gorrell wrote the lyrics for Hoagy's sister, Georgia Carmichael. However, the lyrics of the song are ambiguous enough to refer either to the state or to a woman named "Georgia". 
I thought that there was one quintessential version of the song. The Ray Charles version. Then Michael Bolton came and showed that even if he can't improve on Ray's version, he can definitely hold his own against the giant. Here's a version of them singing the song together!
This one's for Gary Lawyer who I know LOVES this song :)

5th Song - Blue Skies #TheMJshow
"Blue Skies" is a popular song, written by Irving Berlin in 1926.
I don't think anyone sings the song as beautifully as Bing Crosby does. Here he is, singing it, in a movie by the same name. Blue Skies was a 1946 film that featured Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.
This one's for anyone who's not had such a great day :) Don't skies up ahead :)

6th Song - Baby Its Cold Outside #TheMJshow
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a pop standard with words and music by Frank Loesser. It is considered by many as an all-time Christmas favorite though its not really about Christmas at all :)
In 1948, after years of informally performing the song at various parties, Loesser sold its rights to MGM, which inserted the song into its 1949 motion picture, Neptune's Daughter. The film featured two performances of the song: one by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams and the other by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett. These performances earned Loesser an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The movie was wonderful! You should see Esther Williams in it! Woot! What a hottie!:)
I also love Dean Martin's version of this song. You should check it out :)
This one's for Ashok Banker :) I know he's been dying to see Neptune's Daughter again. Thanks for recommending the movie to me :)

Oh what the hell. Here it is. Listen to Dino sing. Man! He's smooth :)

7th Song - All Of Me #TheMJshow
'All of Me' is a popular song and jazz standard written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons in 1931.
Here's ol blue eyes (Frank Sinatra) doing it in his inimitable way :)
This one's also dedicated to Michael Buble. I think he does this song brilliantly!

Also see how different he is from his rat pack pal, Dean Martin. Gosh! This is brilliant!

8th Song - L-O-V-E #TheMJshow
"L-O-V-E" is a jazz song written by Bert Kaempfert and Milt Gabler for American singer-pianist Nat King Cole's 1965 album L-O-V-E (the last album released before Cole's death on February 15, 1965). The song had already been an instrumental track on Kaempfert's Blue Midnight album in 1964.
I think Nat King Cole has one of the smoothest voices ever. Check him out at his best in this song:
This is for everyone out there in LOVE :)

9th Song - You Belong To Me #TheMJshow
"You Belong to Me" is a pop music ballad from the 1950s. The singer reminds his/her lover that, whatever exotic locales and sights he/she experiences, "you belong to me". It is credited to three writers: Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart, and Chilton Price. Actually, Price wrote most of the song, and ceded equal credit to the other two in exchange for their work in promoting it. King and Stewart did rearrange the song because it was written as a war song during World War II and changed the title to "You Belong To Me" along with arranging the music.
Loved this song as a kid. Absolutely loved it! Back then it was Dean Martin singing it to me. But now, here's another version I LOVE. Michael Buble at this best :)

10th Song - Smile #TheMJshow
"Smile" is a song, originally used as an instrumental theme in the soundtrack for the 1936 Charlie Chaplin movie Modern Times. Chaplin composed the music. While some believe the words were written by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, the sheet music was sold with the lyrics accredited to Chaplin. In the lyrics, the singer is telling the listener to cheer up and that there is always a bright tomorrow, just as long as they smile. "Smile" has become a popular standard since its original use in Chaplin's film.
A perfect way to end this show :) Here's Michael showing why he's one of the greatest singers of our generation as well apart from being a great entertainer. This was incidentally one of his favourite standards as well :)
This is just for him. I hope he's in a much more peaceful place. We miss you and your music, MJ :)

And that's a wrap for tonight :) Good night and take care :)

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