Saturday, June 30, 2012


Day two of sadly-less-than-timely posts, this was supposed to be geared to last Wednesday's solstice but I didn't have either of these records handy.

According to this, there are over 33,000 recorded versions of George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward's "Summertime". Although it was written as an aria for the opera Porgy & Bess, it long ago entered the popular songbook. I first encountered it through jazz versions (Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis), then jazz-funk versions (Walter Bishop) and later soul versions (Billy Stewart's crazily over-the-top scat version) and rock versions. (For a fun survey of several, there's this from Diplo and Tripledouble's AEIOU 2.)

These are newer to me, but might be my favorites:

Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton: "Summertime" (Soto Play, 196?)

Big Mama Thornton was a legendary blues singer who, among other things, was the first to record "Hound Dog" and wrote some standards like "Ball and Chain". In the 1960s she was living in the Bay Area and cut this with the great Ray Shanklin.

The Malibus: "Summertime" (Sure Shot, 1968)

The Malibus were from Houston and cut a bunch of records on Don Robey's Sure Shot label. Willie Mitchell produced this. Although he's mainly known for his 70s-era Memphis productions on Hi, in the late 1960s he produced a handful of artists for Robey's Texas-based labels, including the Malibus, O.V. Wright and Buddy Ace.



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