Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Sidney Bechet

Love for Sale

First recorded by Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians (1930).
Other popular versions by Libby Holman (1931), Sidney Bechet (1947), Billie Holiday (1952), Erroll Garner (1953), Charlie Parker (1954), Ella Fitzgerald (1956), Eartha Kitt (1965), Aretha Franklin (1965), Buddy Rich Big Band (1967), Fine Young Cannibals (1990).

From the wiki: “‘Love for Sale’ was written by Cole Porter from the musical The New Yorkers, satirizing various ‘New York’ types, from high society matrons to con men, bootleggers, thieves and prostitutes during Prohibition. The musical opened on Broadway on December 8, 1930 and closed in May 1931 after 168 performances. The pit orchestra featured a young group that had never before appeared on Broadway as the stage band, Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, and which also featured the band’s vocalists, The Three Warings, in supporting roles as ‘Three Girl Friends’. ‘Love for Sale’, the most well-known song from the show, was written from the viewpoint of a prostitute advertising ‘love for sale’. Porter’s biographer George Eells refers to it as ‘the minor-keyed song whose lyrics were judged too raw for radio audiences …’

“When the song was first published in 1930, a newspaper called it ‘bad taste’. Radio stations avoided it. Despite this, popular Hit Parade recordings were released, first, in December 1930 by Waring’s Pennsylvanians & the Three Waring Girls (who had performed in the stage musical) and, then, by vocalist Libby Holman in February 1931.

Summertime

First recorded by Helen Jepson (1936).
Hit versions by Billie Holiday (US #12 1936), Sidney Bechet (1939), Sam Cooke (US #81 1959), Al Martino (UK #49 1960), The Marcels (US #78/UK #46 1961), Billy Stewart (US #10/R&B #7/UK #39 1966), Fun Boy Three (UK #18 1982).
Also recorded by Janis Joplin (1968).

From the wiki: “‘Summertime’ is an aria composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the, Porgy, on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin. The song soon became a popular and much recorded jazz standard, described as ‘without doubt … one of the finest songs the composer ever wrote … Gershwin’s highly evocative writing brilliantly mixes elements of jazz and the song styles of blacks in the southeast United States from the early twentieth century.’

“Gershwin began composing the song in December 1933, attempting to create his own spiritual in the style of the African American folk music of the period. Gershwin had completed setting Heyward’s poem to music by February 1934, and spent the next 20 months completing and orchestrating the score of the opera.

Petite Fleur (Little Flower)

First recorded by The Sidney Bechet All-Stars (1952).
Hit version by Chris Barber’s Jazz Band (US #5/R&B #28/UK #3 1959).

From the wiki: “‘Petite Fleur’ was written by Sidney Bechet and first recorded by The Sidney Bechet All Stars in January, 1952. The song became an international hit in 1959 as a clarinet solo by Monty Sunshine with Chris Barber’s Jazz Band.”

How High the Moon

First recorded by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra with Helen Forrest (1940).
Also recorded by The Les Paul Trio (1944).
Hit versions by Stan Kenton & June Christy (US #27 1948), Les Paul & Mary Ford (US #1 1951).

From the wiki: “‘How High the Moon’ is a jazz standard written by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis. It was first featured in the 1940 Broadway revue Two for the Show. The earliest version to be recorded was by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra and released by Columbia Records in 1940, with the flip side ‘Fable of the Rose’. The Les Paul Trio recorded a version released as a wartime V-Disc, with a spoken introduction, issued in 1944 by the U.S. War Department. The best-known recording of the song is also by Les Paul, with Mary Ford, completed on January 4, 1951. It spent 25 weeks (beginning on March 23, 1951) on the Billboard chart, nine of those weeks at #1.”

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