I don't trust Phil—the groundhog. This year, on February 2nd, under a bright sky, Phil saw his shadow, signifying six more weeks of winter. In New York, that would make the warming trend just a week away—on March 16th. But if Phil's track record (and today's chilly temperature) is any indication, that vernal prediction must be taken with a grain of ice-melting salt.
To help nudge spring along (or at least usher in its mood), I'm posting another set of jazz songs with spring in the title. Yesterday I featured my 10 favorites. Today, I offer another set of 10, again in order of preference:
11. Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year—Red Garland. In November 1958, Garland recorded two trio albums with the same personnel: Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on drums. One of those LPs was All Kinds of Weather, which featured this track, with Garland's signature lock chords laying down the theme followed by bluesy improvisational lines. This version is available at iTunes or here.
12. You Must Believe in Spring—Bill Evans. The first time Evans recorded this Michel Legrand song from the movie The Young Girls of Rochefort, it appeared on Together Again, his second duet album with Tony Bennett. That was in September 1976. Almost a year later, in August 1977, Evans recorded the song on the West Coast with Eddie Gomez on bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums. The execution on the album of the same name became an Evans classic. You'll find it at iTunes or here.
13. It Might as Well Be Spring—Astrud Gilberto. The Brazilian singer recorded this song twice and both times live: In August 1964 at Cafe au Go Go (which was located in the basement of 152 Bleecker St. in New York) and again in October 1964 at Carnegie Hall. Both are sensational, but I love the Cafe au Go Go version just a smidge more. You'll find the former on Getz au Go Go here and the latter on Getz/Gilberto #2 here. Both are also at iTunes.
14. The Say It's Spring—Blossom Dearie. Like Gilberto, Dearie's voice sounds as innocent and as fresh as the season itself. Dearie recorded this little-known Bob Haymes-Marty Clark song on her first album for Verve in September 1956 shortly after returning from a two-year stay in Paris. Joining Dearie were Herb Ellis (g) Ray Brown (b) and Jo Jones (d). You'll find the recording at iTunes or here.
15. Suddenly It's Spring—Chris Connor. In June 1956, singer Chris Connor recorded one of her finest albums for Atlantic—He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Nestled on this brilliant Ralph Burns-arranged date was the Johnny Burke-Jimmy Van Heusen tune, Suddenly It's Spring, which dates back to the movie Lady in the Dark (1944). The album is at iTunes or here.
16. A Touch of Spring—Hal McKusick. This original by Hal appears on Triple Exposure, which the reed player recorded for Prestige in December 1957. Hal plays clarinet on this jazz-fugue piece, and he was joined by Billy Byers (trombone), Eddie Costa (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and Charlie Persip (drums). Bobby Scott penned the arrangement. The song's child-like joy rests in its exuberant simplicity and optimism. The album is one of Hal's finest and is available here as an import.
17. Late Spring—Art Blakey. This hard bop walker by pianist Leon Mitchell was recorded in October 1957,
just before Blakey retooled the group by hiring Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Bobby Timmons and Jymie Merritt. The lineup for this track features Bill Hardman (trumpet) Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Junior Mance (piano), Spanky DeBrest (bass) and Blakey (drums). You'll find Late Spring on Hard Drive as a download at iTunes or here.
18. Love Turns Winter to Spring—Four Freshmen. I can't explain why but I love this Matt Denis-Frank Kilduff tune, which the pair wrote in 1941. The Four Freshmen took it on in the early 1950s and gave it enormous feel with their tight harmony and drawn out approach. The track once appeared on the Capitol LP Freshmen Favorites but now is available on CD on Four Freshmen: Complete 1950-54 Studio-Issued Recordings here.
19. Winter's Got Spring Up Its Sleeve—June Christy. This one was recorded by Christy in January 1961 for a Capitol holiday LP called This Time of Year. This tune is a classic Christy ballad with a complex sound that's both mature and innocent. Best of all, Christy's in classic form. You'll find the track on June Christy: The Ballad Collection at iTunes or here.
20. Spring Is Here—John Coltrane. This song is taken at about twice or three times faster than the ballad you're used to hearing. As a result, the Rodgers and Hart classic ingeniously becomes a completely new, hard bop tune. Coltrane recorded it in July 1958 with Wilbur Harden (trumpet), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and Jimmy Cobb (drums). You'll find the track on the newly remastered Standard Coltrane at iTunes or here.
JazzWax clip: Times were different many years ago, that's for sure. Here's Martha Tilton singing Love Turns Winter to Spring, from a 1941 short (mighty interesting brush technique by the drummer, wouldn't you say?)...