RESTORING THE REPERTOIRE

In the old days — define them as you will — it seemed as if everyone knew, and played, a thousand songs.  Some of that knowlesge had to do with the demands of the marketplace: members of Goodman’s or Ellington’s or Basie’s bands had to learn and play new pop hits (CALL OF THE CANYON, I KEEP REMEMBERING, POP-CORN MAN) — some ephemeral, some of them lasting.

Today it seems as if jazz musicians and singers still have a common language, but their shared vocabulary continues to shrink.  Often I hear a musician suggest a song that would have been well-known a few decades back — STAIRWAY TO THE STARS — and what would have been a delicious performance never happens because the other members of the group, ad-hoc or otherwise, don’t know the song.

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Enough already with SOME OF THESE DAYS and ST. LOUIS BLUES; give SATIN DOLL and EVERYDAY I HAVE THE BLUES a rest; could we move beyond EXACTLY LIKE YOU and WHAT A LITTLE MOONLIGHT CAN DO? WHEN YOU’RE SMILING and PENNIES FROM HEAVEN are wonderful, memorable pieces of music . . . but they aren’t the only ones.

I am very fond of songs — all kinds of them, but particularly the pop songs of the period between the two World Wars — and their passing into obscurity makes me glum.

I am not proposing that we celebrate every pop hit or every forgettable song made memorable by a brilliant performance: my list below lacks I MISS MY SWISS and TAKE ME BACK TO MY BOOTS AND SADDLE.

But there are many many songs that never get performed — and they have lovely melodies and fitting, often deep lyrics — and are in danger of being entirely forgotten.

So what follows is purely an exercise in hopeful self-indulgence: a list of songs I think might make both listeners and musicians happy if they were to be learned and performed.  JAZZ LIVES readers are free to suggest additions to this list, and encouraged to do so.  I have put these song titles in alphabetical order to avoid any suggestion of ranking by merit.

And I mean no offense to some of my friends who perform a few of the songs on this list — I am not suggesting that their performances are obscure or forgettable.  Quite the reverse: I dream of a world where everyone knows the lyrics and melody and chord changes to these beautiful songs.  If my list seems heavily based in 1929-35 romanticism, it doesn’t bother me.

ABOUT A QUARTER TO NINE

ACCENT ON YOUTH

AFTER AWHILE

A HANDFUL OF STARS

ALL MY LIFE

APRIL IN MY HEART

BE CAREFUL, IT’S MY HEART

BEAUTIFUL LOVE

BLACK BUTTERFLY

BLAME IT ON MY YOUTH

BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS

BYE BYE BABY

BY THE FIRESIDE

CHARMAINE

CHASING SHADOWS

CHLOE

CONCENTRATIN’ (On You)

A COTTAGE FOR SALE

DEEP NIGHT

DEEP PURPLE

DIANE

DID YOU MEAN IT?

DON’T BE THAT WAY

DROP ME OFF IN HARLEM

EVENIN’

EV’RY NOW AND THEN

EV’RY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE

FIT AS A FIDDLE

FORTY-SECOND STREET

FOR ALL WE KNOW

GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROADWAY

GOT A DATE WITH AN ANGEL

GUILTY

HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN SO SOON?

HE’S THE LAST WORD

HERE IN MY ARMS

HOME

HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN TONIGHT

HOW ABOUT ME?

HOW ABOUT YOU

HUSTLIN’ AND BUSTLIN’ FOR BABY

I APOLOGIZE

I CAN DREAM, CAN’T I?

I CAN’T GET STARTED

I’D CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN

I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS

IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS

IF I HAD MY WAY

IF IT AIN’T LOVE

I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO CHANGE MY PLAN

I JUST COULDN’T TAKE IT, BABY

I’LL CLOSE MY EYES

I’LL FOLLOW YOU

I’LL NEVER SMILE AGAIN

I’LL STRING ALONG WITH YOU

I’M A DREAMER (Aren’t We All?)

I MARRIED AN ANGEL

I’M FALLING IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE

IMAGINATION

I’M IN THE MARKET FOR YOU

I’M LIVIN’ IN A GREAT BIG WAY

I’M NOBODY’S BABY

I’M OLD-FASHIONED

I’M THROUGH WITH LOVE

INDIAN LOVE CALL

I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU

I SEE YOUR FACE BEFORE ME

IT MUST BE TRUE

IT NEVER ENTERED MY MIND

JEANNINE (I Dream of Lilac Time)

JUST FRIENDS

JUST ONE MORE CHANCE

LET’S PUT OUT THE LIGHTS (And Go To Sleep)

LITTLE MAN, YOU’VE HAD A BUSY DAY

LOUISE

LOVE DROPPED IN FOR TEA

LOVE IN BLOOM

LOVE LETTERS

LOVE LETTERS IN THE SAND

LOVE LOCKED OUT

LOVE ME TONIGHT

LOVE NEST

LULLABY OF BROADWAY

LULLABY OF THE LEAVES

MAKE BELIEVE

MAYBE YOU’LL BE THERE

ME AND THE MOON

MISS ANNABELLE LEE

MOMENTS LIKE THIS

MOONBURN

MOON SONG

MY BUDDY

MY OLD FLAME

NEVERTHELESS

NIGHT OWL

ONCE IN A WHILE (the ballad)

PARDON ME, PRETTY BABY

PENTHOUSE SERENADE

PEOPLE WILL SAY WE’RE IN LOVE

PLEASE

PLEASE BE KIND

POLKA DOTS AND MOONBEAMS

PRINCE OF WAILS

PRISONER OF LOVE

P.S., I LOVE YOU

RAMONA

READY FOR THE RIVER

REMEMBER

REMEMBER ME?

RESTLESS

‘ROUND MY OLD DESERTED FARM

ROSALIE

SAY IT ISN’T SO

SAY IT WITH A KISS

SERENADE IN BLUE

SHOE SHINE BOY

SLEEPY HEAD

SLEEPY TIME GAL

SMILES

SOFT LIGHTS AND SWEET MUSIC

SOLITUDE

SWEET AS A SONG

SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE

THANKS FOR THE MEMORY

THAT OLD FEELING

THE BATHTUB RAN OVER AGAIN

THE DAY YOU CAME ALONG

THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION

THE YOU AND ME THAT USED TO BE

THEN I’LL BE TIRED OF YOU

THERE’S A CABIN IN THE PINES

THIS HEART OF MINE

TIME ON MY HANDS (with verse)

TRUE CONFESSION

UNDER A BLANKET OF BLUE

WAIT TILL YOU SEE HER

WALKIN’ MY BABY BACK HOME

WAS I TO BLAME (For Falling in Love With You)?

WAS THAT THE HUMAN THING TO DO?

WE JUST COULDN’T SAY GOODBYE

WHEN DAY IS DONE

WHEN DID YOU LEAVE HEAVEN?

WHEN YOU AND I WERE YOUNG, MAGGIE

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR

WHERE ARE YOU?

WHERE OR WHEN

WHERE THE BLUE OF THE NIGHT MEETS THE GOLD OF THE DAY

WILLOW TREE

WISHING WILL MAKE IT SO

WITH A SMILE AND A SONG

WITH EVERY BREATH I TAKE

WOULD YOU LIKE TO TAKE A WALK?

YOU OUGHTA BE IN PICTURES

YOUNG AND HEALTHY

YOU’RE BLASE

YOU’RE GETTING TO BE A HABIT WITH ME

YOU’RE LAUGHING AT ME

YOU’RE THE CREAM IN MY COFFEE

YOU ARE MY LUCKY STAR

YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME

YOU STARTED SOMETHING

YOU WENT TO MY HEAD

ZING! WENT THE STRINGS OF MY HEART

Consider and remember the riches that are just waiting to be sung, played, hummed . . . .  And I know as soon as I press “Publish,” I will think of twenty more songs that I should have included . . . in fact, I COULD WRITE A BOOK.

May your happiness increase!

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29 responses to “RESTORING THE REPERTOIRE

  1. jOhn P. Cooper

    I know 110 of those songs the erst I have heard of for the most part.Only a few were unknown to me.

    Do you mean YOU GO TO MY HEAD?

    Which YOU STARTED SOMETHING? ’36 or ’41?

    Which BYE BYE BABY? ’36 or ’53?

  2. jOhn P. Cooper

    I nominate

    DEDICATED TO YOU

  3. YOU WENT TO MY HEAD (Fats and his Rhythm): “You went to my head / Like a fizzy soda in a soda store / But even more / You went to my head / Like the scent of perfume in a stuffy room / But even more . . . ” Perhaps J. Fred Coots? YOU STARTED SOMETHING as recorded by Mildred in 1947. As for BYE BYE BABY, why not both?

  4. I totally agree and you’ve got quite a great list here! a few more I would add would be:
    After My Laughter Came Tears, Girl Of My Dreams, I’m Gettin Mighty Lonesome For You, Serenade Of The Bells, It’s A Blue World, Fool That I Am, Where Is Your Heart?, Daddy’s Little Girl, I Don’t Care Who Knows It, Trees, Moonlight Mood, You’re My Girl, Deep In A Dream, Margie, Because Of You, Me & My Shadow, I Heard You Cried Last Night, It Was So Beautiful, Rumors Are Flying, Among My Souvenirs, I Was Dancing With Someone, I Don’t Care (As Long As You Care For Me), Who’s To Blame?, Do You Care?, It’s Like Reaching For The Moon, Rendezvous With A Rose, Honest & Truly, Melody Of Love, It’s So Peaceful In The Country and It Happened In Monterey just to name a FEW… there’s hundreds more in my book! Hahaha

  5. I knew I could count on your good taste, Austin!

  6. Great post, as always, Michael! I’ve noticed that New Orleans bands have always kept the occasional curveball in the repertoire, going back to Bunk playing popular tunes like “In the Gloaming,” “Out of Nowhere” and such. Last week, during my annual visit to the Crescent City for the Satchmo Summerfest, I picked up about 14 CDs at the Louisiana Music Factory, spanning from the 1950s and 60s revival to the present day. Some highlights:
    Captain John Handy – “On a Coconut Island,” “Shoe Shine Boy,” “I Laughed at Love”
    Kid Thomas Valentine – “Say Si Si,” “Somebody Else is Taking My Place”
    Jim Robinson – “Moonlight and Roses,” “Silver Bells”
    De De Pierce – “Beer Barrel Polka” (also done on a Capt. John Handy CD!)
    Kid Howard – “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover”
    Evan Christopher – “Tropical Moon,” “Solid Old Man”
    The New Orleans Jazz Vipers – “Brother Can You Spare a Dime,” “Zonky”
    The Palmetto Bug Stompers – “The Gypsy,” “We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me)”

    In fact, though I’ve enjoyed the Palmetto Bug Stompers live in the past, I had no intention of seeking out their CD when I hit the Louisiana Music Factory. But then I heard “We Three” (hey Austin!) and I stopped what I was doing and asked the clerk what it was and bought it on the spot. That kind of surprising repertoire choice, when done with affection and swing, makes me a fan every time.

    Ricky

  7. “In Love in Vain”. Keith Jarrett did it with his trio in fairly recent times. But I doubt if any mortal can equal Mildred Bailey’s version. Her voice no longer had the spring out youth which had her reaching for something way, way deep.

  8. This is a subject about which I am passionate; there is such a wealth of wonderful material to choose from, and, as you rightly point out Michael, the same songs are rolled out with increasing regularity. Interestingly, I find that more ‘mainstream/modern’ players suffer from the same problem. ‘ Whenever a ‘scratch’ band, or sitters in appear it is invariably “All The Things You Are”, “How High The Moon”, “On Green Dolphin Street” etc etc. (Not that there is anything wrong with those tunes par se……). It is easy to criticize the ‘Real Book culture’ as many do, but, to be fair, the Real Books – and their ilk – provide hundreds, if not thousands of more obscure songs and standards. Are musicians simply becoming lazy? Or perhaps just playing it safe by constantly calling the same songs? Perhaps it is an unfortunate side effect of the declining number of venues where younger musicians could sit in and gain experience; years ago it was a great way of learning new material to have an unusual song ‘thrown at you’ whilst sitting in; this seems to happen less and less now………

  9. Oh, yes, indeed. One of the more “modern” songs which could take a rest is IT’S YOU OR NO ONE, to say nothing of the endless reliance on Bird lines . . . but dare I go on? I wanted to suggest that the common vocabulary could be refreshed, and here I am criticizing what might seem to be the status quo. Hope springs eternal, rather like the Basie rhythm section!

  10. I love this idea, and would offer the following additions to your list:

    Accidents Will Happen
    After You, Who?
    Again
    All in Fun
    All Through the Day
    All Too Soon
    Any Old Time
    Blue Prelude
    Can I Forget You?
    Can’t Get Indiana Off My Mind
    Can’t We Talk It Over?
    Close as Pages in a Book
    The Couple in the Castle
    Dancing on a Dime
    Did I Remember?
    Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?
    East Side of Heaven
    Easy Come, Easy Go
    Ev’rything I Love
    Foolin’ Myself
    From Monday On
    Get Out and Get Under the Moon
    A Handful of Stars
    Hands Across the Table
    Happy As the Day Is Long
    Harlem Butterfly
    Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?
    Heaven Can Wait
    How Am I to Know?
    How Little We Know
    Humpty Dumpty Heart
    A Hundred Years from Today
    I Believe in Miracles
    I Can’t Begin to Tell You
    I Double Dare You
    I Guess I’ll Have to Dream the Rest
    I Know Why (and So Do You)
    I Like the Likes of You
    I Never Had a Chance
    I Wanna Be Loved
    I Want to Talk About You
    I Wished on the Moon
    I’ll Buy That Dream
    I’ll Never Be the Same
    I’m a Dreamer, Aren’t We All?
    I’m Coming VirginiaI’m Gonna Lock My Heart (and Throw Away the Key)
    I’m in Love with the Honorable Mr. So and So
    I’m Playing with Fire
    I’ve Got My Eyes on You
    If I Love Again
    If Love Were All
    If There Is Someone Lovlier Than You
    In a Sentimental Mood
    In the Middle of a Kiss
    It All Depends on You
    It Can’t Be Wrong
    It Never Was You
    It’s a Big, Wide, Wonderful World
    It’s Been So Long
    It’s the Dreamer in Me
    June in January
    Just Imagine
    Keepin’ Myself for You
    The Land Where the Good Songs Go
    Lazy
    Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella
    Let’s Begin
    Let’s Get Lost
    Little Old Lady
    Looking at You
    Love Is the Sweetest Thing
    Me, Myself and I (Are All in Love with You)
    Memphis in June
    Midnight with the Stars and You
    Moanin’ in the Mornin’
    The Moon Looks Down and Laughs
    Music Maestro Please
    My Heart Tells Me
    New Sun in the Sky
    No Love, No Nothin’
    No Regrets
    Now It Can Be Told
    Oh, You Crazy Moon
    On Treasure Island
    Once in a Blue Moon (Kern/Caldwell)
    One Morning in May
    Out of Nowhere
    Painting the Clouds with Sunshine
    Poor Pierrot
    Remind Me
    Roll Along, Prairie Moon
    Sand in My Shoes
    Say It (Over and Over Again)
    Say It Isn’t So
    Shadow Waltz
    Shaking the Blues Away
    She’s Funny That Way
    Sleighride in July
    Soft As Spring
    Some Sunday Morning
    Something to Remember You By
    Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year
    The Starlit Hour
    A Strtanger in Town
    Sunday, Monday or Always
    Sweet and Slow
    Slowly
    Thanks a Million
    That’s for Me (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
    There I’ve Said It Again
    There’s a Lull in My Life
    There’s No You
    Thinking of You
    This Funny World
    Three on a Match
    The Thrill Is Gone
    This Is New
    Through the Years
    ‘Tis Autumn
    Too Many Tears
    The Touch of Your Lips
    True Blue Lou
    Twentieth Century Blues
    Up with the Lark
    The Very Thought of You
    We’ll Be Together Again
    Westwind
    What Is There to Say?
    What WIll I tell My Heart
    What’ll I Do?
    What’s New?
    When a Woman Needs a Man
    Why Do I Love You?
    Without Love (DeSylva/Brown/Henderson)
    Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
    The You and Me That Used to Be
    You and the Night and the Music
    You Are Love
    You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me
    You Don’t Know What Love Is
    You Showed Me the Way
    You Turned the Tables on Me
    You’re Easy to Dance With
    You’re Nearer
    When Light’s Are Low

    Like you, I could probably come up with more if I tried,

  11. This is a great list – perhaps there could be a list of links to versions one could hear online?

  12. There “could” indeed be such a list but I regret I haven’t the energies needed to do it. Perhaps someone in my readership would like to take it on? But, dear Anonymous, you will see that the comments just today have added hundreds of song titles . . . check out YouTube and see what comes up! Happy trails, Michael

  13. I am amazed at how many I actually know and can play. Then there are many that ramble around in my head but I cant nail down. Got to hear the first few bars and then it comes out automatically. My Mom had the radio on and sang along any time she was working in the kitchen, and lots stuck.

  14. Hi Michael I totally agree – with one modification….play ther verse as well! John

  15. I would imagine that one could find versions of many of these titles on YouTube. Samples of most of them can probably be found on the All Music Guide or Amazon. For searching on YouTube, you might have to refine your search a bit where there are more contemporary songs with the same title. You can use the All Music Guide to get the names of artists who did the older versions to refine your YouTube searches. Setting up links would be an undertaking for someone with a lot of time on his or her hands.

  16. Reblogged this on The Jazz House and commented:
    Valid points all around…

  17. This list is heavy on Harry Warren compositions.

    AT LAST
    BY THE RIVER SAINTE MARIE
    CHEERFUL LITTLE EARFUL
    COFFEE IN THE MORNING
    CRYIN’ FOR THE CAROLINES
    DANCING ON THE CEILING
    DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME
    EAST OF THE SUN
    EASY TO LOVE
    FAIR AND WARMER
    GARDEN OF THE MOON
    GONE WITH THE WIND
    HAVE YOU MET MISS JONES
    HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN
    I COVER THE WATERFRONT
    I DON’T STAND A GHOST OF A CHANCE WITH YOU
    I FOUND A MILLION DOLLAR BABY
    I HADN’T ANYONE TILL YOU
    I KNOW WHY
    I LOVE MY BABY
    I SHOULD CARE
    I WALK WITH MUSIC
    I WISH I KNEW
    I’LL BUY THAT DREAM
    I’LL GET BY
    I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME
    I’LL REMEMBER APRIL
    I’LL SING YOU A THOUSAND LOVE SONGS
    IT’S THE TALK OF THE TOWN
    JEEPERS CREEPERS
    JUST A MEMORY
    LULU’S BACK IN TOWN
    MORE THAN YOU KNOW
    MY BABY JUST CARES FOR ME
    MY FOOLISH HEART
    MY HEART STOOD STILL
    NO LOVE, NO NOTHIN’
    NOW THAT YOU’RE GONE
    ONE MORNING IN MAY
    ONE SWEET LETTER FROM YOU
    OOH! THAT KISS
    OUT OF NOWHERE
    ROSE OF THE RIO GRANDE
    ROSE ROOM
    ‘S WONDERFUL
    SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN
    SHANGHAI LIL
    SHE’S A LATIN FROM MANHATTAN
    SHUFFLE OFF TO BUFFALO
    SING A LITTLE JINGLE
    SLUMMING ON PARK AVENUE
    SOMETHING TELLS ME
    SUMMER NIGHT
    SWEET AND SLOW
    SWINGING DOWN THE LANE
    TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE
    TELLING IT TO THE DAISIES
    THE MORE I SEE YOU
    THE ONE I LOVE BELONGS TO SOMEBODY ELSE
    THE TOUCH OF YOUR LIPS
    THEN I’LL BE HAPPY
    THERE IS NO GREATER LOVE
    THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER YOU
    THERE’S A SMALL HOTEL
    THIS IS ALWAYS
    THIS HEART OF MINE
    TIME WAS
    TOO MANY TEARS
    UNTIL THE REAL THING COMES ALONG
    WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MADE
    WHEN WINTER COMES
    WHEN YOUR LOVER HAS GONE
    WHISPERING
    WITH PLENTY OF MONEY AND YOU
    YOU’LL NEVER KNOW
    YOU’RE MY EVERYTHING
    YOU’VE GOT ME CRYING AGAIN

    There are many more I could add. This was the great age of American popular song – before the predominance of the singer-songwriter (Johnny Mercer excepted.

  18. Having so many Harry Warren songs illustrates the old saw about the cream always rising to the top. In popular music, melody is a primary ingredient, and Warren was a master melodist, as were Van Heusen and Kern.

  19. Michael, the reliance on Bird licks – especially among saxophonists – is a badge of craft. It’s a way to signify to musicians that you belong and to take you seriously. As such, it counts for more than the styles of earlier players or ears.

    Some will even listen specifically for proof of Parker n your playing – I actually had a respected clarinetist complain that my alto playing didn’t have enough Bird in it. And he was sitting in with my gruop at the time!

  20. I dig BIrd, but that does not mean that I do not appreciate a saxophonist who does not throw in Bird licks. Even more egregious is the reliance of so many young sax players who feel compelled to base their playing on John Coltrane. Many are not only taken with his content, but also insist on imitating his harsh sound. They ignore Hawk, Bean, Prez, Zoot, Al, Stan and so many others without whom Coltrane would have had no foundation. To take it one step further, I believe that the worst moment in jazz is when Trane picked up a soprano sax. Since that time, I picture every cobra in the world emerging from a basket when the sound of Trane or one of his acolytes playing a soprano inflicts the world with that horrible sound.

  21. Mr, Lang, I agree with you completely about the slavish Trane and Bird wannabees who play 48 choruses when they are hard pressed to craft a single meaningful phrase. The ones who think the alpha and omega of “jazz” is the Real Book.

    How about a “badge of craft” for an individual approach. That’s the glory of this music.

    Pres is reported to have said “you can’t join the throng till you sing your own song”.

    It’s not really the fault of the younger players though, there is seldom the chance at mentorship which used to be the norm. Few elders to kick some ass now and then.

    A positive force is this blog site which consistently and selflessly presents music committed to authenticity.

  22. I know who you are, Sir, and I lovet you, too.

  23. jOhn P. Cooper

    YOU WENT TO MY HEAD – Ya – That is one I do not know.
    YOU STARTED SOMETHING – the 1941 version is from a Betty Grable film – Moon Over Miami. Robin and Rainger http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/315294/Moon-Over-Miami-Movie-Clip-You-Started-Something.html
    “As for BYE BYE BABY, why not both?” Why not? :)

  24. jOhn P. Cooper

    So many wonderful songs are being listed, but do they suit the needs of a Jazz player?

  25. Why not let the jazz players decide for themselves, once they have taken in the lovely kinds of information, feeling, and experience? My guess is that no one asked Billie if she really wanted to record MISS BROWN TO YOU, or Mildred if she liked I’D LOVE TO TAKE ORDERS FROM YOU, or a thousand other examples . . . the jazz players did what they thought was right for themselves and the song and made masterpieces. It could happen again!

  26. Paul Lindemeyer

    Remember too, everyone, that quality is easy to ignore in entertainment-for-hire like pop songs. We’re conditioned – those of us of a pre-internet vintage, anyway – to draw a bright line between art and entertainment, or what is often really meant, art and crap.

    I hope the younger musicians, raised in a postmodernist, information-rich world, can perceive many subtle degrees of gradation between those two poles which used to be strictly kept apart!

  27. jOhn P. Cooper

    But, natch. But my point still is that perhaps many of these excellent pop tunes do not attract or suit the improvisational needs of the Jazz man due to their melodic or harmonic content, And we seem to be naming a lot of tunes that the Jazz man does not play much or at all. There may be a reason for that.

  28. It’s as much tradition as content, I’m sure. It gets reinforced that you don’t go digging for new tunes unless you’re playing with the same folks all the time. Professional courtesy becomes an artistic default decision.

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