Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Sunday Jazz – Stormy Weather

The weather during the past week has seen the greatest degree of wind I have seen since I last scoffed an Ashoka vindaloo, therefore it gives the ideal chance to post the great Sinatra’s version of  “Stormy Weather” one of many great songs written by  Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler.

Ethel Waters first sang it at The Cotton Club night club in Harlem. It has since been covered by artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Clodagh Rodgers, and Reigning Sound. Leo Reisman‘s orchestra had the biggest hit on records (with Arlen himself as vocalist), although Ethel Waters recorded version also performed well.

The song tells of disappointment, as the lyrics, “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky” show someone pining for her man to return. The weather is a metaphor for the feelings of the singer; “stormy weather since my man and I ain’t together, keeps raining all the time.”

The original handwritten lyrics, along with a painting by Ted Koehler, were featured on the (US) Antiques Roadshow on 24 January 2011, where they were appraised for between $50,000 and $100,000. The lyrics show a number of crossings out and corrections.

Ethel Waters‘ recording of the song in 1933 was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Library of Congress honored the song by adding it to the National Recording Registry in 2004.


“Stormy Weather” – Frank Sinatra

Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky, stormy weather
Since my gal and I ain’t together, keeps raining all the time
Life is bare, gloom and misery everywhere, stormy weather
Just can’t get my poor old self together
I’m weary all the time, the time
So weary all the time

When she went away the blues walked in and they met me
If she stays away, that old rocking chair’s gonna get me
All I do is pray the Lord above will let me
Walk in the sun once more

Can’t go on, everything I have is gone, stormy weather
Since my gal and I ain’t together
Keeps raining all the time
Keeps raining all the time

Can’t go on, everything I have is gone, stormy weather
Since my gal and I ain’t together
Keeps raining all the time, the time
Keeps raining all the time


To buy the music of Frank Sinatra click HERE


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May 29, 2011 Posted by | Jazz Vocal, Old Music, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Jazz – George Shearing

Somehow the news of Sir George Shearing OBE dying on 14th February in New York from heart failure at the age of 91 had passed me by until yesterday when I noticed an obituary in a magazine.

George Shearing enjoyed an international reputation as a pianist, arranger and composer.  Equally at home on the concert stage as in jazz clubs, Shearing is recognized for inventive, orchestrated jazz. 

He has written over 300 compositions, including the classic “Lullaby of Birdland,” (words by George David Weiss) which has become a jazz standard since it’s creation in 1952, the title being a reference to Charlie “Bird” Parker and the club named after him.

Oh, lullaby of birdland, that’s what I
Always hear when you sigh,
Never in my wordland could there be ways to reveal
in a phrase how I feel
Have you ever heard two turtle doves
Bill and coo, when they love?
That’s the kind of magic music we make with our lips
When we kiss
And there’s a weepy old willow
He really knows how to cry,
That’s how I’d cry in my pillow
If you should tell me farewell and goodbye
Lullaby of birdland whisper low
Kiss me sweet, and we’ll go
Flying high in birdland, high in the sky up above
All because we’re in love

Born in 1919 in the Battersea area of London he moved to the US in 1942 to seek out a career in jazz and became well-known and respected over a period of time, however, it was 1949 when he formed a quintet to record “September in the Rain” for MGM.  The record was an overnight success and sold 900,000 copies. 

His U.S. reputation was permanently established when he was booked into Birdland, the legendary jazz spot in New York.  Since then, he has become one of the country’s most popular performing and recording artist.

For a full biography click HERE

Click HERE for a full obituary as published in The Guardian.

My own tribute comes from two tracks from my favourite albums featuring him.

First up is his brilliant album recorded in 1959 with the great Peggy Lee

“Don’t Ever Leave Me” – Peggy Lee & George Shearing

Don’t ever leave me, now that you’re here
Here is where you belong
Everything seems so right, when you’re near
When you’re away, it’s all wrong

I’m so dependent when I need comfort
I always run to you
Don’t ever leave me, ’cause if you do
I’ll have no one to run to

I’m so dependent when I need comfort
I always run to you
Don’t ever leave me, ’cause if you do
I’ll have no one to run to

Next up is Shearing’s 1961 recording “Nat King Cole Sings/George Shearing Plays”

“Pick Yourself Up” – Nat King Cole & George Shearing

Pick yourself up…
Take a deep breath…
Dust yourself off
And start all over again.

Nothing’s impossible, I have found
For when my chin is on the ground.
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off
And start all over again.

Don’t lose your confidence
If you slip
Be grateful for a pleasant trip
And pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off
And start all over again.

Work like a soul inspired
Until the battle of the day is won.
You may be sick and tired,
But you’ll be a man, my son.

Will you remember the famous men
Who had to fall to rise again
They picked themselves up
Dust themselves off
And start’d all over again.


Work like a soul inspired
Till the battle of the day is won.
You may be sick and tired,
But you’ll be a man, my son.

Will you remember the famous men
Who had to fall to rise again?
So take a deep breath…
Pick yourself up…
Dust yourself off
And start all over again.

To buy the music of George Shearing click HERE

March 13, 2011 Posted by | Jazz, Jazz Vocal, New News, Old Music, Uncategorized, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Jazz – Summertime



Summer arrived this weekend and as such there could only be one choice for Sunday Jazz…… “Summertime”

“Summertime” – Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

As a bonus here is an instrumental version by Chet Baker

“Summertime” – Chet Baker


May 31, 2009 Posted by | Jazz, Jazz Vocal, Old Music | , | 1 Comment

Sunday Jazz – Ella Fitzgerald


Having featured Ella Washington on yesterday’s Saturday Soul I thought it only fair (any excuse) to feature the great Ella Fitzgerald today.

Whilst the web is still relatively short on information relating to the former, there is little that can’t be gleemed from the web regarding the latter.

For more information on Ella Fitzgerald click HERE

There is little to say about this Ella that hasn’t been said before, to me she was simply the greatest female vocalist ever.

“Angel Eyes” is one of my all time top 10 favourite songs, here it is in it’s full studio glory”

“Angel Eyes” – Ella Fitzgerald

Try to think that love’s not around
But it’s uncomfortably near
My old heart ain’t gaining no ground
Because my angel eyes ain’t here

Angel eyes, that old devil sent
They glow unbearably bright
Need I say that my love’s mispent
Mispent with angel eyes tonight

So drink up all you people
Order anything you see
Have fun you happy people
The laughs and the jokes are on me

Pardon me but I got to run
The fact’s uncommonly clear
Got to find who’s now number one
And why my angel eyes ain’t here
Oh, where is my angel eyes

Excuse me while I disappear
Angel eyes, angel eyes.

You can buy Ella’s music HERE

March 15, 2009 Posted by | Jazz Vocal, Old Music, Video | | Leave a comment

The Return Of LaBelle



This was Labelle in the mid-1970s. They were not just a pop group with one enormous hit, “Lady Marmalade,” but a phenomenon whose music helped change the very idea of what pop and the artists who made it — especially women singers previously confined to “girl groups” — could be.

“People were looking for three outrageous women who might sing and say anything, and who looked like someone you had never seen before,” said Patti LaBelle in a recent interview, reflecting on the emergence of the group she’d formed with Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash when they were teenagers, and which has reunited for a new album, “Back to Now,” to be released Oct. 21 on Vanguard Records.

“The idea was for artists to sing what they live and write the songs they live. And we really treated it like a band, not a girl group,” said Hendryx. “Three minds, but one mind at the same time. And that did allow for different things to be said.”

During the mid-1970s Labelle stood alongside David Bowie and George Clinton’s P-Funk as visionaries of spectacular, genre-blasting pop.

“Alice Cooper and David Bowie, they were doing their thing,” Clinton said by phone from a spot on his current tour to promote his new project, the doo-wop flavored George Clinton and his Gangsters of Love. “That whole period, everybody was going for theatrical rock. So we just said, ‘Let’s go all the way with it. Let’s do it all.’ That’s what we did, and that’s what they were doing too.”

After spending the 1960s as the vocal group Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles (who, among other accomplishments, toured with the Rolling Stones), the group guided by manager Vicki Wickham enacted one of pop’s most remarkable transformations. They traded in their wigs and satin gloves for futuristic costumes by rock designer Larry LeGaspi, began recording Hendryx’s politically forthright and erotically charged songs, and developed a stage show that was part gospel revival, part circus, part love-in.

They refashioned “Moonshadow” by Cat Stevens into a gospel stomp and opened for the Who — “Back to Now” includes one cut from the vaults, a cover of Cole Porter’s “Miss Otis Regrets” featuring Keith Moon on drums. They recorded an album with Laura Nyro and followed Bette Midler’s famous engagement at New York’s gay mecca the Continental Baths.

“It wasn’t really accepted that black girls could sing these songs,” said Wickham, who also managed Dusty Springfield, by phone from New York. “A lot of Nona’s songs had double entendres, it wasn’t like radio was going to jump on it. The time really wasn’t right, but I also think that we were so big on doing it live and having great audiences that nobody really said, ‘Hang on a second, you need to have something that goes on radio.’ ”

“Nightbirds,” Labelle’s masterpiece, was recorded in New Orleans by that city’s maestro, Allen Toussaint. “Lady Marmalade” is its signature tune, and remains a touchstone for young singers. The group’s practice of sharing lead vocals was taken up by later female groups such as En Vogue and Destiny’s Child, and solo artists including Fantasia and Christina Aguilera cite Patti LaBelle as a main influence.

But the legacy of Labelle, the band, might be coming to the fore only now, as category-defining artists such as Gnarls Barkley and Santogold revive the legacy of black rock. Lenny Kravitz, an early adapter of that sound, produced several tracks on “Back to Now,” including “System,” a funk-rock killer that the group regularly performed in the 1970s.

“In America more than other places, when you don’t put something in a nice, neat box and label it and put a ribbon on it, it’s hard for people to grasp,” Kravitz said by phone from Paris, where he lives part time. “All the years I was trying to get a record deal I kept hearing, ‘It’s not black enough’ or ‘It’s not white enough.’ That’s the same thing with Labelle . . . But obviously they’ve had major hits, and they’re part of the fabric of American culture.”

Labelle’s fans have maintained the group’s cult since its demise in 1976. Some were in the crowd that night at the Met, or at other legendary performances, including a show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium where Elton John joined the ladies onstage.

“Their concerts were almost tribal in terms of the frenzy that was involved,” said performing artist and playwright Julius Hollingsworth, who earned his ticket to the Met show by wearing a silver space suit provided by Wickham and handing out fliers in front of Bloomingdale’s. “The audience was just with them. They were singing these sweet songs, but with a powerful voice behind them. And the political content infused the music with a kind of power that has not been matched since.”

Other fans are younger, particularly scholars who see the group as a key to reclaiming the lost history of black rock and stereotype-defying soul. University professors such as Mark Anthony Neal, Jason King, Sonnet Retman and Daphne Brooks are re-envisioning pop history with Labelle as a muse.

“Even though many of the major glam-rock artists of the 1970s were inspired by African American music, glam still tends to be memorialized as an exclusively white, male, and European genre,” wrote King in a recent e-mail. He is also a singer-songwriter and producer and has worked with Sarah Dash. “Labelle forces us to reconsider the racial and gendered boundaries of glam rock. They have just as much right to be considered part of the pantheon of glam as T-Rex or the New York Dolls.”

“Back to Now” reasserts Labelle’s claim to the glam crown while touching down in the other styles the trio has influenced, from quiet storm to funk. Hendryx co-wrote most of the songs, and a few, especially the slinky ballads “Candlelight” and “Superlover,” feel more radio-friendly than much of her earlier Labelle work.


Keith Moon frumming on “Miss Otis Regrets” is an interesting contest but the song belongs to Ella, in the dame way that “Won’t Get Fooled Again” belongs to The Who despite LaBelle’s groovy cover.

You can hear both below.

“Miss Otis Regrets” – Ella Fitzgerald [MP3]

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” – LaBelle

October 12, 2008 Posted by | New News, Old Music | , , | Leave a comment


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