Jun 27, 2019

"I Remember You" - the tag

While comparing versions of the harmony to Victor Schertzinger's "I Remember You," I  got distracted by another feature: the often-used tag that repeats the last phrase, up a minor third. Cannonball Adderley uses this ending in this great 1959 version (6:38 in the video):

The tune was written in 1942. The up-a-minor-third tag doesn't appear in any early versions that I could find (Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James). And although I don't have the original sheet music, I did check the chart in the Hal Leonard Real Jazz Standards Fake Book, which shows original sheet-music changes, and the tag didn't occur there.

Browsing Youtube, the earliest usage I could find was in this Dave Brubeck version, recorded 12/14/53. He uses it as both intro and tag (or "outro," as we sometimes say):

Interestingly, Horace Silver uses a similar intro/outro approach in this version, recorded 11/23/53. Horace doesn't use the melody line, but does use the up-a-minor-third device in both intro and outro:

Wikipedia lists this track as having been released in 1953, but does not give an exact date. It's possible, but not too likely, that Brubeck had heard Silver's version prior to his own recording of "I Remember You." My guess is that neither Brubeck nor Silver actually originated this tag, but that it was "in the air" by late 1953. If any readers know of an earlier version using this tag, please let me know in the comments.

While I was listening to these recordings, my wife recalled that there had been a country-sounding version on Los Angeles pop radio in the 1960s. She mght have been remembering one of these versions - Frank Ifield (#1 on the charts in England in 1962), or Slim Whitman, who covered Ifield's version in 1966. Both versions use the up-a-minor-third tag.

Here are the Beatles in an early recording in Hamburg, covering Ifield's version, and again with the tag:

Jun 1, 2019

Nino Rota's La Strada and Dvorak's Serenade for Strings

We often have classical radio on while we do the dishes after dinner. A couple of nights ago we were listening to the Larghetto from Dvorak's Op. 22 Serenade for Strings (1875), when I recognized a familiar melody - the main theme from Fellini's "La Strada" (1954, music by Nino Rota).

I can't resist this tune-detective stuff. Here's the opening to "La Strada." The theme starts at 0:24, right after the Dino De Laurentiis fanfare; the first phrase of the theme is cut off. Regardless of its derivation, it's a beautiful piece of writing :

The theme recurs throughout the movie. If you haven't seen it, or haven't seen it lately, the full film can be viewed here.

And here's the Larghetto from the Dvorak:

Of course, I wasn't the first person to notice the derivation. More info can be found on the Wikipedia entry for "La Strada."