The song of the day for Wednesday, August 28, 2019, is “That Old Black Magic.”
About This Song
One of the great songs by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, “That Old Black Magic” was written in 1942 and first recorded by Glenn Miller. It was used in the 1942 movie Star Spangled Rhythm. It’s been recorded many times and used in several films, including the 1956 film Bus Stop, where it was sung by Marilyn Monroe.
About This Version
On August 28, 1962, Tony Bennett with the Ralph Sharon Trio and the Dave Brubeck Quartet were invited by President John F. Kennedy to present a concert to thank all of the White House college interns. Initially, the concert was to bed held in the Rose Garden, but so much interest was generated about this concert that it was moved to the outdoor Sylvan Theatre at the base of the Washington Monument.
The evening started with five songs performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, consisting of Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on alto sax, Eugene Wright on bass, and Joe Morello on drums. This was followed by six songs performed by Tony Bennett with The Ralph Sharon Trio, consisting of Sharon on piano, Hal Gaylord on bass, and Billy Exiner on drums.
After his set, Bennett returned to the stage with Dave Brubeck, Eugene Wright, and Joe Morello for an improvised and completely unrehearsed set. The highlight of this set (well, for me anyway) was their performance of “That Old Black Magic.”
For many years, the tapes from this concert were thought to be lost. Not long after Brubeck’s death in 2012, the tapes were found (misfiled in the classical music archives at Columbia), resulting in the 2013 release of Bennett & Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962. Both performers were incredibly popular: Bennett had wowed the critics just a few weeks earlier with his legendary performance at Carnegie Hall on June 29; Brubeck, having recently found incredible success with his song “Take Five,” was busy recording and performing. This album was a rare opportunity to hear both their rehearsed sets as well as their impeccable improvisations.
“That Old Black Magic,” as well as Bennett & Brubeck: The White House Session, Live 1962, is available from iTunes.