But Not For Me Part 2
Swing is the Thing When It Comes to Gershwin

As I was writing my article featuring George Gershwin’s But Not for Me a couple of weeks ago, I found myself anxious to explore the possibility of doing a swing arrangement of this wonderful standard as soon as I could. There were so many terrific swing style tracks on my Spotify playlist that listening to them created the impetus for me to give it a whirl.

There was also another reason behind doing this. It’s something that I often demonstrate for my adolescent and adult piano students. When playing songs found in fake book, the pianist has the flexibility to create a variety of accompaniment styles of the same tune. More about that in a minute.

Years ago, Pulitzer Prize winning Boston composer John Harbison made a rather astute observation. He said that when it comes to the standards from the Great American Songbook, the song is the song i.e. each tune is recognizable in whatever style it is plays. On the other hand, today’s popular songs are the “record” i.e. the recorded performance of a song that is heard on a CD, mp3, LP or any other digital music file. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Continue reading But Not For Me Part 2
Swing is the Thing When It Comes to Gershwin

But Not For Me – George Gershwin Joins
Conversations at the Piano after 9 Years

It may be difficult to believe, but in 9 years of publishing this Conversations at the Piano blog, composer George Gershwin has never once been featured. There were several reasons for this. One of these is to give many other slightly less popular composers the well-deserved attention that is due them.

That said, rather than waiting to schedule a George Gershwin series (which I may do at one point), I recently became excited about playing one of his well-known standards But Not for Me. In all honesty, it is difficult for me to decide whether it falls under the Revisiting My Favorite Tunes series or the Always Learning one. The reason for this is that my relationship with But Not for Me includes both categories.

Interestingly enough, when it came to working on But Not for Me, I found myself in the same situation that several of my Adult Piano Students have experienced. What these students have found, is that over the years they have accumulated a long list of songs that they had learned. Unfortunately, time constraints often cause pianists like you to stop playing the songs that you have learned in the past. That is UNLESS you have a good system in place for repertoire review.

Even so, there are far more songs than any professional or amateur pianist has learned over the years that could possibly be reviewed on a regular basis. As a result, many tunes end up falling by the wayside. Believe it or not, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Here’s why…….

Continue reading But Not For Me – George Gershwin Joins
Conversations at the Piano after 9 Years

Street of Dreams
Another Terrific Tune by Victor Young

Once in a while in life we speak about something with confidence and then find out later that the information that we shared was inaccurate. This happened to me when writing about composer Victor Young in my post featuring When I Fall in Love.

Here’s what I wrote:What’s interesting for those of us who play jazz, is that his creative output of jazz standards is generally limited to three amazing songs: When I Fall in Love, My Foolish Heart and Stella by Starlight (a fourth one, Street of Dreams is performed as well though less frequently than the other three)”.

While it is true that the first three songs are very popular, I not only misspoke, but also proved myself wrong by featuring more of his work than I had realized in my Conversations at the Piano blog. For example, Golden Earrings has received quite a bit of performance attention. Beautiful Love which Young co-wrote with Egbert Anson Van Alstyne and Wayne King is very popular among jazz instrumentalists as well as vocalists. Finally, today’s featured selection Street of Dreams certainly holds its place in the repertoire as well.

In retrospect, I’m actually sorry that I didn’t consider a Victor Young blog series, but hindsight has 20 X 20 vision. Thanks to computer sorting capabilities implemented by my website consultant David Summer readers like you will still be able to access all of my Victor Young posts in the not-too-distant future (a couple of more of his compositions coming soon).

So now that I have apologized for my oversight, let’s take a look at Street of Dreams.

Street of Dreams was a popular song composed by Victor Young in 1932 with lyrics by Sam M. Lewis (1885-1959). Many recordings include the verse. However, the core of this standard (as found in the Real Book) is basically only 16 measures. It is from this version that my arrangement comes. Continue reading Street of Dreams
Another Terrific Tune by Victor Young

Who Can I Turn To?
Giving this Standard a Jazz Waltz Spin

Despite the fact that most of the jazz standards come from the Great America Songbook (late 1920s to early 1950s), there are a few exceptions. Today’s featured selection is a notable example.

Two Englishmen named Leslie Bricusse (b. 1931) and Anthony Newley (1931-1999) collaborated to write Who Can I Turn To? for a musical called The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell of the Crowd which was launched in England in 1964 and then toured the USA.

As often happens, the producers hope to draw attention to their show by releasing a recording of the theme song. Unfortunately for them, Shirley Bassey’s single did not garner much success. Fortunately, there was a follow-up recording this time by Tony Bennett, which did hit number 33 on the pop charts.

Since then, Tony has sung Who Can I Turn To? as a solo and duet both in concert and on recordings many times throughout his amazing career. Although I’m not sure exactly how Who Can I Turn To? went from a popular to song to a jazz standard, I will say that the song’s structure and chord progressions went a long way towards its popularity with jazz instrumentalists and vocalists.

Continue reading Who Can I Turn To?
Giving this Standard a Jazz Waltz Spin