Large Association of Movie Blogs
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, January 27, 2023

Mozart, Kern, Ruby, Elmore

January 27 always means a music post, as all-time great composers, songwriters and musicians share a 1/27 birthday, starting with . . .

Here's some high grade Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart goodness, interpreted brilliantly by a pianist who has been among the best of the very best for decades, Martha Argerich.

For more, strongly suggest delving into the following playlist of Mozart masterpieces, performed with panache by The Guarneri String Quartet.

Regarding the incredible Jerome Kern, composer and collaborator of lyricists George Grossmith Jr., Guy Bolton, P. G. Wodehouse, Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Fields, Johnny Mercer, Ira Gershwin and Yip Harburg, born on January 27, 1885, the question is where does one start? With classic movie musicals, of course.

Bringing their original ideas to Kern's universe: crooners Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole.

Never to be outdone, EVER, Ella Fitzgerald recorded an entire album of Jerome Kern songs.

And, speaking of jazz, the gifted virtuoso pianist Bud Powell (1924-1966) waxed a memorable, heartfelt and Art Tatum-esque version of Kern's The Last Time I Saw Paris.

Five years ago, this blog spotlighted the incomparable Broadway and Hollywood songwriter (and screenwriter) Harry Ruby.

Notably, Harry Ruby wrote the lyrics to one of my absolute favorite songs!

Groucho Marx' pal and favorite songwriter, Harry was a cornerstone of many outstanding entertainments, not the least of were several classic comedy films of the 1930's.

Groucho continued performing these songs right up to the end of his lengthy showbiz career.

The dynamic duo of Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby were responsible for writing countless great tunes.

Among the amazing covers of songs by Kalmar & Ruby is this one by Louis Armstrong. No doubt Sinatra and Nat took notes regarding Satchmo's uncanny ability to absolutely nail songs from both jazz and Broadway.

Millions of us would-be musicians attempted, with complete and utter lack of success, to emulate the playing of genius slide guitarist and vocalist Elmore James (1918-1963). Since blues remains both simple and very, very difficult to play - even more difficult to excel at - few guitaristas come close to James' original phrasing, timing, feeling, intensity, dynamics and nuance.

Have been listening to Elmore James play "Dust My Broom" for decades and still ask "HOW does he do it?" So did Howlin' Wolf, Earl Hooker, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer.

Even more amazing: James' incendiary solo and vocal on Tampa Red's It Hurts Me, Too.

Chicago's own Luther Allison is a blues vocalist-guitarist who gets it regarding Elmore James.

In closing, we note that there is an astonishingly good guitarist who pulls this approach to the instrument off beautifully . . . and he happens to be Elmore's son.


Pete Hale said...

I'm a huge Mozart fan! Greatest musical genius ever. Historian Shelby Foote said that him and Shakespeare are art...and then there's everyone else.

Hey Paul, I was reading The Fleischer Story last month and saw your name in the thanks! Coincidence?

Paul F. Etcheverry said...

Mozart's music played by such unbelievably great virtuosos as Martha Argerich and Guarneri String Quartet is tough to top.

Yes, that's me in The Fleischer Story. I was actually working on a Fleischer Popeye filmography way back in the early 1970's and shared my research with Leslie Cabarga. Also recall writing to Mark Kausler and asking him many Fleischer Studio questions, which he kindly answered. Eventually, got to see lots of my favorite very odd, surreal and weirdly imaginative 1930s cartoons by Fleischer, Van Beuren, Lantz, Mintz, etc. via Mark!

Paul F. Etcheverry said...

Another virtuoso who goes to town in a big way with Mozart is the astonishing Yuja Wang.