The song of the day for Monday, February 2, 2015 is “Danny Boy.”
About This Song
The tune for “Danny Boy” is “Londonderry Air,” a tune popular in the Irish diaspora. It was first collected in 1885, but pre-dates that quite a bit; it is referred to as an “ancient air.” The lyrics were written by a Bath lawyer named Frederic Weatherly in 1912. The song is widely sung on Irish holidays.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded “Danny Boy” in 1964. Twice in that year, Bennett sang in sessions with Herbie Hancock (piano), Stan Getz (tenor sax), Ron Carter (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums). They recorded some really excellent jazz in those sessions, though no album was ever released. Five songs from those sessions were included on the Rarities, Outtakes and Other Delights, Vol. 1 CD included in the 2011 Complete Collection box set and now available from iTunes.
The Year of Tony Bennett remembers Stan Getz, who was born on February 2, 1927 in Philadelphia to Polish parents who had emigrated to the US in 1903. He was interested in music and the saxophone as a child and joined the Jack Teagarden band when he was only sixteen years old. Having relocated to Los Angeles, he joined the Stan Kenton band when he was seventeen.
After a stint with the Woody Herman Band, Getz set out primarily on his own as soloist and leader.
Stan Getz was at the forefront of the samba and bossa nova movement in the US. He won Grammy awards for his recording of Desafinado (1962), Record of the Year for “The Girl From Ipanema” (1964) and Album of the Year for Getz/Gilberto, also in 1964.
In his later years, he returned to cool jazz, working mainly in the San Francisco area and as an artist-in-residence at Stanford University. He won his fifth and last Grammy in 1991 for Best Solo Jazz Performance for “I Remember You.”
Stan Getz died of cancer in June, 1991.
In his autobiography, The Good Life, Tony Bennett writes:
Another tremendous coach of mine was Mimi Speer. She had a studio right on Fifty-second Street, across from all my favorite haunts. We’d look out her window down at the marquees across the street: Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, Stan Getz, George Shearing, Lester Young, Count Basie and Billie Holiday, all lined up in a row. It was enough to make your head spin. She’d tell me, “Do not imitate another singer, because you’ll end up sounding just like they do, and you won’t develop an original sound. Instead find a musician you really like and study their phrasing. That way you’ll create a sound all your own.” I paid particular attention to sax players Stan Getz and Lester Young.
You can learn more about Stan Getz, his life and his music at stangetz.net. This excellent site was created and is maintained by Stan’s daughter, Beverly Getz and contains a wealth of information.
“Danny Boy,” as well as all the songs included on Rarities, Outtakes and Other Delights, Volume 1, is available from iTunes.