Off Topic Messages

Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfied)

Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:40 pm

We often see cover versions of Elvis-associated songs posted on these boards, but relatively few are covers by swing/big band/jazz singers and musicians. Despite this, there are plenty out there - many do fall into that period in the 1960s when the likes of Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald found themselves lost amid the music culture of that period, and so tried their hands at pop songs instead. The Basie efforts are often relatively trite, but Ella and others adapted remarkably well in a number of cases. So, here is a thread highlighting some swing, big band and jazz-oriented singers and performers trying their hands at Elvis (with varying degrees of success).

JOHNNIE RAY: SATISFIED/PLEDGING MY LOVE

Ok, Johnnie Ray might only partially fit into this category of performers, but aside from his hit songs, the majority of his albums were filled with American standards, and he recorded with both Duke Ellington and the Billy Taylor trio. Most interesting here, however, is that Ray is performing the infamous lost Sun song, Satisfied. It's not a commonly collected song, and wasn't previously on youtube until I uploaded it today. It features Ray's full-on style, but with a Jordanaire-style backing. Recorded 1953, and released as the B-side of With These Hands. Pledging My Love comes from seven years later, by which time his career and personal life was in a downward spiral. Still, a nice performance, though. Ray also made at least three different recordings of Up Above My Head (one a solo studio recording, one a studio recording with Frankie Laine, and also a live performance).

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ELLA FITZGERALD: I CAN'T STOP LOVING YOU (Berlin, 1968)

If you only click on one of these links, I would say this should be the one. Ella was more successful than most at bringing 60s pop and rock into her repertoire, but sadly few people got to hear it as she was without a long-term contract for most of the second half of the 1960s, and many of the concert performances have only been released posthumously. Here the 52 year old Ella takes I Can't Stop Loving You and turns it into a belting soul number (once she gets over the giggles!). This was a period when her voice was moving away from the smooth-as-silk vocals of the Verve years, and took on a rasping, growling quality which she used to her advantage. The ad-lib section possibly goes on for too long (probably you had to be there), but Ella was finally moving away from the quiet, often rather meek on-stage personality of the past and was having a great deal of fun at last. Sadly this german TV special isn't available on DVD, despite being one of the concerts ever recorded on film.

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COUNT BASIE: MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

I had to go back to the original LP I recorded this from to make sure that my labelling was correct, but yes this is Memphis Tennessee (apparantly!). From Basie's album Basie's In The Bag, one of the few that has not made it to CD.

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CHARLIE HADEN: SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A MOTHERLESS CHILD

Double bassist has had a wonderful and varied career, but one of the real high points was when he teamed up with pianist Hank Jones for the gorgeous "Steal Away", an album of jazz interpretations of gospel songs and hymns. Brilliant stuff.

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PETER GRANT: YOU DON'T KNOW ME

Peter Grant was flavour of the month in the UK a few years back, and viewed as the British Buble. But he was unhappy with the way his career was going, went through lengthy efforts to buy out his contract and then spent two years writing and recording a new album. All credit to him for that, but his move away from jazz/swing is a bit of a shame. His first album, with fun, big band versions of songs such as Fool on the Hill and I Saw Her Standing There is a blast. This isn't a professional recording, just Grant messing around with a favourite song. Good stuff.

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COLEMAN HAWKINS: JOSHUA FIT THE BATTLE

Coleman Hawkins was one of the great jazz saxophonists, and many regard his work in the 1960s as a a sign of an artist whose best days were over, but as this recording from shows this is far from the truth. Not only does he retain a beautiful tone, his improvisations are as imaginative as ever.

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FRANK SINATRA: ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT

Quite whether Sinatra would have ever thought of recording Are You Lonesome Tonight had Elvis not had a hit with it in 1960 is something we shall ever know. However, it appeared a couple of years later on an album entitled "All Alone", a Gordon Jenkins arranged LP of rather antiquated songs in 3/4 time, originally intended to be called Come Waltz With Me. While beautifully sung and arranged, the whole affair seems to be just too earnest and heavy for its own good. Still, I prefer this to the 1979 recording of Love Me Tender that found its way into the "Trilogy" project.

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BING CROSBY & COUNT BASIE: GENTLE ON MY MIND/SNOWBIRD

Sinatra's country-ish rendition of Gentle on My Mind is quite well known, but Crosby's swing version with Count Basie and his orchestra is not. Also included here is Snowbird from the same album. Recorded in the early 1970s, the whole album is remarkably kitsch, but rather good fun - and Crosby's voice shows little sign of aging, despite being close to 70 at the time of recording.

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DINAH WASHINGTON: RAGS TO RICHES

Washington's years with the Roulette label saw her move away from the bluesy, jazzy sound and into more easy listening territory, more often than not accompanied by full orchestra. Her voice also started to wane during these last years of her life as well (check out the low notes in this recording). While this is hardly one of Dinah's greatest efforts, little that she did was without interest, and this a reminder of the style in which Presley's belter started out.

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NINA SIMONE: YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE

Finally, Nina Simone reminds us that she wasn't a jazz artist, but a musician who refused to be pigeon-holed. Here she gives a rhapsodic-like instrumental performance of You'll Never Walk Alone.

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Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:22 pm

poormadpeter wrote:So, here is a thread highlighting some swing, big band and jazz-oriented singers and performers trying their hands at Elvis (with varying degrees of success).


Nice topic idea, but except for Sinatra's January 17, 1962 recording of "Are You Lonesome To-night?" none of these artists are "trying their hands at Elvis." They are pulling from the same records that Presley heard and enjoyed.

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:56 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:So, here is a thread highlighting some swing, big band and jazz-oriented singers and performers trying their hands at Elvis (with varying degrees of success).


Nice topic idea, but except for Sinatra's January 17, 1962 recording of "Are You Lonesome To-night?" none of these artists are "trying their hands at Elvis." They are pulling from the same records that Presley heard and enjoyed.


Yes, that's true, but acknowledged in the "Elvis-associated" comment of the first sentence. I nearly included Sammy Davis's In The Ghetto to even it up a bit, but that would be too evil!

What do you make of Ray's Satisfied? Presumably we don't know for sure which version Elvis was influenced by, although Carson's would be the obvious contender.

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:13 am

poormadpeter wrote:What do you make of Ray's Satisfied? Presumably we don't know for sure which version Elvis was influenced by, although Carson's would be the obvious contender.


Johnnie Ray's cover is a little jolly, but not bad at all.

Martha Carson's original was ubiquitous. Elvis very likely first heard "Satisfied" on the radio in 1951-52. His Sun recording has been placed to sessions in September 1954, just a couple of years later.


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Martha Carson and the Gospel Singers, "Satisfied" (Capitol 1900, December 1951)


Presley probably enjoyed all of Carson's songs when they toured together in May 1955, too.


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Billboard - May 14, 1955
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Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:33 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:What do you make of Ray's Satisfied? Presumably we don't know for sure which version Elvis was influenced by, although Carson's would be the obvious contender.


Johnnie Ray's cover is a little jolly, but not bad at all.

Martha Carson's original was ubiquitous. Elvis very likely first heard "Satisfied" on the radio in 1951-52. His Sun recording has been placed to sessions in September 1954, just a couple of years later.


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Martha Carson and the Gospel Singers, "Satisfied" (Capitol 1900, December 1951)


Presley probably enjoyed all of Carson's songs when they toured together in May 1955, too.


Billboard May 14 1955 p16.JPG
Billboard - May 14, 1955


I always feel that Ray could have been a much better singer/recording artist with the right producer. His achievements were/are remarkable, of course, but too often (as on Satisfied) there's too little light and shade in the performances and it seems he just belts his way through. The jazzier sides shows that this needn't have been the case, but his in-your-face style may well have been the reason why his star fell so quickly (along with his own personal issues, arrests, and so on). interestingly there is a Dutch TV show from around 1957 that shows that Presley's on-stage movements were almost polite and restrained in comparison to Ray, who "milks" his mircophone stand before seemingly making love to the piano during "Yes Tonight, Josephine!"

It's almost inconvenient that Presley and Carson toured AFTER Presley's recording of Satisfied; it would have been a rather nice story had they toured first and then he had gone into the studio and recorded her song.

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:08 am

Jazz was the popular music before Elvis burst into the scene, could that be the reason why Jazz fans are reluctant to accept Elvis.

Here two beautiful renditions of Love Me Tender

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Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:14 am

Ray Brown was great, but never really liked him as a leader. Got a couple of albums but they don't do anything for me. The other one is very nice though. Thanks for the nice finds!

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:22 am

The Beegie Adair Trio recorded an album Love, Elvis in 2000.

Here are some more:

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Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:51 am

Thanx Peter for the Johnny Ray - Satisfied upload. Will play the Sinatra song tomorrow.

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:09 am

Jove wrote:The Beegie Adair Trio recorded an album Love, Elvis in 2000.



Thanks. My guess is that after a couple of tracks, the album would get a bit samey? Going through the previews on amazon, that's the impression at least. It's nicely done, though, and Fools Fall In Love gets something of an unexpected makeover - although that one's not on youtube!

By coincidence, the following version of Are You Lonesome Tonight by The Mavericks shuffled onto my ipod this evening. Bit of an odd mix of a country group and swing, but it's quite nice all the same.

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Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:29 am

Peter, I thought Rags to Riches sucked. She was hardly singing but rather SHOUTING the words.

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:10 am

Robt wrote:Peter, I thought Rags to Riches sucked.

As did Sinatra's version of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:30 am

And here's a jazzy version by Sue Moreno
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Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:35 pm

Washington was suffering from the ravages of addiction by the time she recorded Rags to Riches, and it shows - although her style was always pretty full on! As for Sinatra's effort, it's not my favourite either. The album "All Alone" is really quite heavy, or perhaps "worthy" might be a better word. For what it is, it's well done, but that doesn't necessarily make it a pleasant listen.

The Sue Moreno track is fun - interesting how she uses more of a jazz backing, and yet uses basically the same arrangement - even the backing vocals, which you wouldn't normally expect on a jazzy track like that. Thanks Jove.

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:11 am

Jazz was the popular music before Elvis burst into the scene



No way!

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:30 am

How do you know Sinatra was covering Elvis' version of ''Are you lonesome tonight?''

That song was done by several singers before Elvis ever touched it.

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:13 pm

brian wrote:How do you know Sinatra was covering Elvis' version of ''Are you lonesome tonight?''

That song was done by several singers before Elvis ever touched it.


I'm not sure that it matters in the context of this thread - but how in 1962 could Sinatra not have remembered Presley's huge hit when he chose the song for the album in the first place. Presley's hit was one of a number that updated songs from the 1910s, 20s and early 30s and hit the charts with them - Darin had three hits with such songs on his own (BIll Bailey, Mack the Knife, You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby). The temperance Seven had four hits with similar songs in the UK during 1961 - and Sinatra visited Britain in 1962 (twice I think, first to finish filming on the final Road movie, and then for concerts). So it's hardly a surprise that he included pop/novelty songs from that era (not his normal repertoire)in his albums Sinatra SWings, Swinging Brass, Great Songs from Great Britain, and All Alone. These people were having hits that Sinatra could have had himself - it can be no coincidence that this was the year when he started making a concerted effort to get back in the pop charts himself (even if Everybody's Twistin' was somewhat ill-conceived!).

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:15 pm

Once again, this is a Presley connection, rather than a cover of a Presley hit, but a very nice swing version of Release Me by Matt Monro that I just came across:

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Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:00 pm

Also possibly of interest is Ella Fitzgerald turning to a doo-wop type sound in this version of Soldier Boy from 1954 or 1955. The original B-side is also on this video, in which she absolutely murders the lovely song A Satisfied Mind.

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Or how about this jazz version of That's All Right by Curtis Stigers

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Live version:
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Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:41 am

poormadpeter wrote:
brian wrote:How do you know Sinatra was covering Elvis' version of ''Are you lonesome tonight?''

That song was done by several singers before Elvis ever touched it.


I'm not sure that it matters in the context of this thread - but how in 1962 could Sinatra not have remembered Presley's huge hit when he chose the song for the album in the first place. Presley's hit was one of a number that updated songs from the 1910s, 20s and early 30s and hit the charts with them - Darin had three hits with such songs on his own (BIll Bailey, Mack the Knife, You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby). The temperance Seven had four hits with similar songs in the UK during 1961 - and Sinatra visited Britain in 1962 (twice I think, first to finish filming on the final Road movie, and then for concerts). So it's hardly a surprise that he included pop/novelty songs from that era (not his normal repertoire)in his albums Sinatra SWings, Swinging Brass, Great Songs from Great Britain, and All Alone. These people were having hits that Sinatra could have had himself - it can be no coincidence that this was the year when he started making a concerted effort to get back in the pop charts himself (even if Everybody's Twistin' was somewhat ill-conceived!).


I agree with you 100%. When Elvis recorded Are You Lonesome Tonight, that song was an "obscure" song for the fans in that era.


In 2007 Cyrus Chestnut released a jazz album inspired by Elvis, more on the lyrics than on the melodies.

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Even the cover was inspired by the iconic cover of Elvis eponymous album
I could not find any clips on youtube but here is a link:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... d=15039843

Re: Elvis, King of swingers? (includes Johnnie Ray: satisfie

Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:27 pm

Jove wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:
brian wrote:How do you know Sinatra was covering Elvis' version of ''Are you lonesome tonight?''

That song was done by several singers before Elvis ever touched it.


I'm not sure that it matters in the context of this thread - but how in 1962 could Sinatra not have remembered Presley's huge hit when he chose the song for the album in the first place. Presley's hit was one of a number that updated songs from the 1910s, 20s and early 30s and hit the charts with them - Darin had three hits with such songs on his own (BIll Bailey, Mack the Knife, You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby). The temperance Seven had four hits with similar songs in the UK during 1961 - and Sinatra visited Britain in 1962 (twice I think, first to finish filming on the final Road movie, and then for concerts). So it's hardly a surprise that he included pop/novelty songs from that era (not his normal repertoire)in his albums Sinatra SWings, Swinging Brass, Great Songs from Great Britain, and All Alone. These people were having hits that Sinatra could have had himself - it can be no coincidence that this was the year when he started making a concerted effort to get back in the pop charts himself (even if Everybody's Twistin' was somewhat ill-conceived!).


I agree with you 100%. When Elvis recorded Are You Lonesome Tonight, that song was an "obscure" song for the fans in that era.


In 2007 Cyrus Chestnut released a jazz album inspired by Elvis, more on the lyrics than on the melodies.

Image

Even the cover was inspired by the iconic cover of Elvis eponymous album
I could not find any clips on youtube but here is a link:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... d=15039843


That's one I did know about, but had forgotten. It's not bad either!

This little gem is from the 1959 Monterey Jazz Festival and features Jimmy Witherspoon backed by an all-star band including Coleman Hawkins, Woody Herman, Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge (and possibly Louis Armstrong) and more. Good Rockin Tonight!

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