Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Sidney Bechet

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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