In honor of the lunar eclipse last night, I dug up a few “moon tunes” for today’s post. The moon and its many rhymes – soon, June, croon, balloon, swoon – lend themselves to sugary verses and lyrics.
I can guarantee you will find no sugar here except the kind with a twist of lemon.
I had planned a longer post, but these five tunes stand up tall and need nothing further to bring the message home today: The moon may be full, it may be blue, it might be made of paper or there might be a man in it, but whatever it is, the moon, in this case, swings!
The Jazz Cookie leads off with a melancholy version of the lovely “Moonlight Becomes You” recorded by Chet Baker in 1954. The song was composed by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Burke for the movie, “The Road to Morocco,” one of the famous road movies with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. In the movie, Bing crooned – there’s that rhyme – the song to Dorothy Lamour. Chet plays it here just for you and whoever is curled up next to you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv_oTpBAzS4
Next up is that feverish girl vocalist, Miss Peggy Lee, with “Old Devil Moon.” This one was written for “Finian’s Rainbow” by Burton Lane and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg in 1947. A movie version featured Fred Astaire and Petula Clark, but I like the sultry spin Miss Peggy puts on it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCaJiAAuYlQ (Yip Harburg also wrote the lyrics for “The Wizard of Oz,” of course, but you knew that.)
This next tune was Frank Sinatra’s first big hit with the Tommy Dorsey band. It’s another great one by the Van Heusen and Burke team, “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” done here by John Coltrane with the Elmo Hope Sextet which included Donald Byrd, Hank Mobley, Paul Chambers and “Philly” Joe Jones. Damn, they’re good. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1mL0rlKIfw
What would a moon tribute be without Ella and “How High the Moon”? This take was recorded live in Berlin in 1960 and she scats the hell out of it. A classic tune, a classic singer and a classic recording. When you look at her, you know she’s having one swell time! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR1__k-BxhY
And finally, my favorite moon tune – “Moonglow with Benny Goodman and the band. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cq8ZGnfUN4
But wait, there’s more. After Benny and the band came Morris Stoloff and the movie – “Picnic.” Steve Allen wrote the theme song for the movie and Stoloff put the two songs together for what became one of the most memorable musical numbers of the late 1950s. Of course, the dance sequence with William Holden and Kim Novak sealed the deal. This one is generally considered the sexiest dance scene on film. I couldn’t agree more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DBoMIi8bYc
Ciao, Jazz Babies…