The haunting waltz BEAUTIFUL LOVE was composed in 1931, music credited to Wayne King, Victor Young, and Egbert Van Alstyne; lyrics to Haven Gillespie. That is an eminent group of artists. I don’t know whether King insisted that his name be put on the music (thus, he would receive royalties) before he would perform the song. On no evidence whatsoever, I think Victor Young might be most responsible for this melody.
I do know that I first became aware of BEAUTIFUL LOVE through one or another 1934 Art Tatum recording. Here is his early Decca improvisation, characteristically with everything imaginable offered, including a vivid digression into RUSSIAN LULLABY:
There are, of course, many improvisations on it by Bill Evans, by Helen Merrill, Anita O’Day, Benny Carter, Joe Pass, Kenny Dorham, Lee Konitz, Shirley Horn, George Shearing, and a sweet, intent one by Bing Crosby.
What other song can you think of that has been recorded by both Donald Lambert and Chick Corea?
In this century, the song retains its popularity among improvisers, if YouTube videos are a measure of that. Here is a sheet music cover from 1959 with the UK pop singer Edna Savage posing inexplicably:
But my new favorite performance of BEAUTIFUL LOVE is this, which took place at the Allegheny Jazz Party on September 19, 2014 —
That’s our Rebecca, Becky Kilgore, and Keith Ingham — in one of their duets in a Victor Young tribute set. I so admire the varied textures and shadings Becky brings to individual words and to those words, made into tapestries of sound and feeling. The most modest of stars, she is a great understated dramatic actress who seems never to act; she is possessed by the song and rides its great arching wings.
Love is of course the great mystery, whether it is gratified or if it remains elusive. How the great artists touch us so deeply is perhaps mysterious. But what we feel and perceive is not — whether we experience it in person or on a recording or a video performance.
To experience an unforgettable weekend of music by Becky and friends, one need only visit here to find out all one needs to know about the Allegheny Jazz Party, taking place in Cleveland, Ohio, September 10-13, 2015.
May your happiness increase!