The song of the day for Thursday, August 21, 2014 is “Taking A Chance On Love.”
About This Song
“Taking a Chance on Love” was written for the 1940 musical Cabin in the Sky by Vernon Duke (music) and John Latouche and Ted Fetter (lyrics), where it was introduced by the great Ethel Waters and Dooley Wilson. The song works well for both jazz singers and instrumentalists, with significant recordings by Dave Brubeck, Tony Bennett, Judy Garland and Dizzy Gillespie.
And, even though we have featured two songs in row with lyrics by John Latouche, it is not John Latouche Week, though that’s a great idea.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded today’s song in December, 1958 with Count Basie and His Orchestra for the 1959 album In Person! with Count Basie and His Orchestra. In his autobiography, The Good Life, Bennett tells this story:
Although I’d talked with him on the telephone I didn’t meet Count Basie until our rehearsals began. It was an amazing experience, the fulfillment of a dream, and I’ll never forget it. We hit it off right away, as though we always knew and understood each other. At one point, Basie turned to his band, pointed his finger at me, and said, ‘Anything this man wants, he gets!’ I was floored.
William James “Count” Basie was born on August 21, 1904 in Red Bank, New Jersey and would have been 110 years old today. He learned to play piano from his mother as a child and by the time he was a teenager, he was performing. He had dropped out of school and ran lights for a vaudeville house while he learned to accompany silent movies. By the age of 16, he was performing professionally. Though from the East Coast, he really got his start in jazz in Kansas City, playing with Bennie Moten’s Band from 1929 until 1935, when Moten died. He then started his own band, which lasted for nearly fifty years. Some of the great talent that came through Basie’s band include Lester Young, Freddy Green, Buck Clayton, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams. Billie Holiday toured with Basie after the band moved to New York in 1938.
Basie’s was one of the very bands that managed to stay together after the Swing era ebbed out in the early 1940s; even Benny Goodman dismantled his band. Basie and Ellington found ways to last, even though it meant prodigious touring to make the payroll.
Younger fans may remember Count Basie and His Orchestra playing in the desert at the end of Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles.
And Tony Bennett fans remember that his current drummer, Harold Jones, played with Basie.