“Our Love Is Here To Stay” written by George and Ira Gershwin for the movie “The Goldwyn Follies” (1938)
“On the Street Where You Live” written by Frederick Loewe and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, from the Broadway musical, “My Fair Lady” (1956)
Traditionally Jazz musicians have taken popular songs of the day (Motion Picture and Broadway show tunes for example) and through their mastery of composition and improvisation create a new art form. Songs were re-arranged and re-recorded in a jazz style. Being a sort of “re-mix” these “cover tunes” of already popular melodies were easily recognized by the listener and gained wide exceptence.
Old School Jazz
There is a very good description of Jazz in the Motion Picture “La La Land”. What I can say is that in Jazz once the melody and harmony are established, the “bass line” repeats and provides the foundation for the improvisation of a new melody by the performer. In the amazing Goldberg Variations Bach does just that (he solos over the bass line). But in addition (and just for kicks) in the 30th variation Bach “quotes” or “inserts” popular German Folk melodies (of the day). Two of which are: Ich bin solang nicht bei dir g’west, ruck her, ruck her (“I have so long been away from you, come closer, come closer”) and Kraut und Rüben haben mich vertrieben, hätt mein’ Mutter Fleisch gekocht, wär ich länger blieben (“Cabbage and turnips have driven me away, had my mother cooked meat, I’d have opted to stay”). Being a genius and having fathered 20 children I think it is safe to say that in addition to a very productive life Bach also had a sense of humor :-)
Mozart composed a set of 12 improvisations based on the French song “Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman” – translation: “Ah, Mother, if I could tell you.” This melody is better known to Western ears as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” or “The Alphabet Song”.
In these examples we find popular music compositionally embellished, taking the listener on an adventurous ride.
So there is an aspect of Jazz where the listener (already familiar with the melody) follows the artist’s improvisation through the song. Artists like Vocalist Ella Fitzgerald and Pianist Oscar Peterson were not the artists who first performed and recorded these popular (show tune melodies) but their interpretations certainly created something new and forwarded the art form. Their iconic versions of popular music are now regarded as classics and perhaps are more popular than the original versions.
Sheila and I first met Alice and Wilson at a wedding at the Four Seasons Westlake where we provided Flute and Piano music and DJ/MC. Wilson said he liked my style of announcing; that was a very appreciated compliment. We talked about the idea of DJ/MC for their wedding but as we corresponded I learned that Alice liked Jazz. She wanted contemporary popular music played in a jazz style.
There are already some pretty cool versions (covers) of popular contemporary music on line. I took Alice’s suggestions and “in the tradition of Jazz” wrote some of my own arrangements for the Elegant Music Jazz Trio.
Here is a video shot at a rooftop dinner party of the Elegant Music Jazz Trio performing a variety of dinner dance music that also includes “(Amazing) Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars.
Alice chose Vocalist Karla Kelly to perform with the Elegant Music Jazz Trio to create a Jazz Quartet for her wedding. Here is a “live” performance of Karla singing: “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”
Jazz Covers of Contemporary Music
Here is some of what we played for Alice and Wilson’s wedding:
Sky Full of Stars, Coldplay
I’m Yours, Jason Mraz
(Amazing) Just The Way You Are, Bruno Mars
I Do, Colbie Caillat
Ena Gotta Da Vida, Iron Butterfly Jazz Cover
Cake By The Ocean, DNCE
I Shot the Sheriff, Bob Marley
Feel So Close To You Right Now, Calvin Harris
Cairo 1929, E. Zimmermann
Bennie and The Jets, Elton John
Thousand Years, C. Perry
Game of Thrones, Main Theme
City Of Stars, La La Land
Firework, Katie Perry
Bad Romance, Lady Gaga
Get Lucky, Daft Punk
Beauty And The Beast – Jazz Waltz (Main Theme)
Fur Elise, Beethoven/Jazz Cover
Falling In Love Again with You , Imelda May
Ex’s & Oh’s, Elle King
I Love You Like A Love Song, Selena Gomez
Sunday Morning, Maroon 5
September, Earth, Wind & Fire
All Night Long, Lionel Richie
Wide Awake, Christina Perry
Don’t Stop the Music, Rhianna
A beautiful successful wedding. Congratulations Alice and Wilson!
It was an absolute pleasure to meet and work with Alice and Wilson on music for their wedding. As we discussed details everything came together nicely. To ensure a professional presentation scripted announcements were included in the itinerary. After conferring with coordinator Michael Kaintz of True Lux Events the itinerary was perfect! The evening went very smoothly.
Sincerely, Eric Zimmermann
Elegant Music 626-797-1795
PS: As always, I look forward to speaking with you about music!