notes on the Songs from the Album
Strongman - by Oscar Brown Jr. singer, songwriter, playwright, poet, civil rights activist, and actor. In 1962, he worked on the Westinghouse syndicated television program Jazz Scene USA, produced by Steve Allen. Brown was the show's presenter and it featured a new musical guest - mostly jazz - each week. This show was one of my first exposures to jazz. Strongman was recorded by and the title of a recently re-released album by Abbey Lincoln. Abbey had complained to Oscar that there were no positive relationship songs for black couples. He complied with this one.
April in Paris/Not Exactly Paris - by Michael Leonard and Russell George. Michael Leonard was the composer of the Broadway show - The Yearling, based on the book by Marjorie Kinnan Rawling. It was not a hit. But it produced 2 songs that have become familiar - I’m All Smiles, Darling and Why Did I Choose You?. Not Exactly Paris has become a popular cabaret song. I first heard it by Nancy Lamott. Of course, April in Paris is by Vernon Duke - who also wrote Autumn in New York - with lyrics by Yip Harburg.
Morning - Clare Fischer, composer, big band and vocal arranger. He is also known for his composition Pensativa. In later life he arranged for Prince and Paul McCartney among others. Morning was a hit when translated to Spanish. Title: Una Manana.
My Kind of Trouble - Benny Carter alto sax player, composer, arranger and big band leader wrote this tune. Other popular tunes of his are When Lights Are Low and Only Trust Your Heart.
Oh,You Crazy Moon - by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen - real name Edward Chester Babcock. This song writing team wrote many standards together including But Beautiful, Here’s That Rainy Day, Swinging on a Star and Like Someone in Love. Covered by Mel Torme, Chet Baker among many others.
Lucky to be Me - music by Leonard Bernstein. lyrics by Betty Comden & Adolph Green - the song before the finale of act 1 from the show On the Town.
I Could Have Told You - composed by Jimmy Van Heusen as well, with lyrics by Carl Sigman. He collaborated with other songwriters and wrote words and music for songs such as Crazy He Calls Me, All Too Soon, and Arrivederci Roma.
Make Me Rainbows - from the 1967 movie Fitzwilly starring Dick Van Dyke. Ella does it with the Basie band. Composed by John Williams - the John Williams of Star Wars fame - and Alan & Marilyn Bergman.
Lush Life - This is the song that got Billy Strayhorn into the Duke Ellington orchestra. He wrote it as a teenager (unbelieveable)and for many years it was not performed in public, but only for private parties (a bit too worldly) until 1938 when Billy performed it for Duke. They became writing partners for many years after as a result.
The Day That I Found You - by John Pizzarelli who was recently here in Calgary at the Arts Common. He recorded this song in 2003 for his album “Live at Birdland”. It is subtitled “The Pollywog Song”. You’ll hear why when you have a listen.
When the Sun Comes Out - by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Ted Koehler. Introduced by Helen O’Connell with the Jimmy Dorsey orchestra in 1941. It was the B side of the first single recorded by Barbra Streisand with Happy Days are Here Again on the A side. She recorded it again for her second album. Also made popular by Judy Garland, Mel Torme - the quintessential torch song.
Sophisticated Lady - a big hit for the Duke Ellington team - including Irving Mills from 1933 - one of the more standard, standards.
/Something Cool - by Billy Barnes who was known as the “Revue Master of Hollywood”. June Christy recorded Something Cool in 1954. I thought these tunes went together in lyrical tone and composition.