Music for the lovelorn, the hopeful, the despairing, the wistful . . .all in swingtime, performed at the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party by singers Cecile McLorin Salvant and Spats Langham (who has a guitar or banjo in his hands most of the time), with instrumental backing from trumpeter Duke Heitger, trombonist Alistair Allan, reed hero Norman Field, violinist Emma Fisk, pianist Martin Litton, bassist Henri Lemaire, and drummer Richard Pite.
There’s a long tradition in jazz of taking the most mournful popular songs (and I think there have always been more downcast songs than elated ones, although I haven’t counted) at swinging tempos. Even the saddest Crosby and Columbo laments had some rhythm in them, and if you consider Billie’s I’M GONNA LOCK MY HEART for one example, you’ll see the possibilities of the juxtaposition.
But until Cecile’s romp on the final song, much of this set was sadness or yearning in a lightly mobile 4 / 4.
Spats began with Fud Livingston’s sadly serious I’M THROUGH WITH LOVE:
YOU’VE GOT ME CRYIN’ AGAIN was recorded in 1933 by both Bing Crosby and a young Lee Wiley:
Cecile tells the imaginary lover I GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU VERY WELL:
Spats goes back to Bing and Eddie Lang — at the same time — for a song I love dearly, PLEASE:
Evoking the jazz tradition of fifteen years later (I thought of Sarah Vaughan), Cecile swings out with LOVER, COME BACK TO ME:
I don’t know what this music would do for the genuinely lovelorn (in the audience or on the stand) but I appreciate every turn.
May your happiness increase.