What Phil Schaap calls “the swing-song tradition” — a nimble swinging singer accompanied by an equally swinging group — is epitomized for most people by the 1933-42 recordings Billie Holiday made with Teddy Wilson, Lester Young, and other luminaries. However, it was going on before Billie entered the studio (Connie Boswell, Lee Wiley, Mildred Bailey) and it continues to this day (Rebecca Kilgore, Daryl Sherman, Barbara Rosene, Petra van Nuis, and others). Dawn Lambeth shines in this setting, and the three performances captured here at the San Diego Jazz Fest both reflect the great tradition and show what joy and art these musicians bring to it. (I was reminded often, as well, of the late-life recordings Maxine Sullivan made in Sweden, which are very dear to me.)
I know that the tradition wasn’t exclusively female — think of Henry “Red” Allen among others — but I am holding back from making a list of all the swingers. You’ll understand.
Here are three beauties from that same set. First, Irving Berlin’s ALL BY MYSELF (which is really quite a lament — but not when swung this way):
Then, the tender ONE HOUR — someone is sure to write in and say that it is really called IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT. Yes, Sir (there are no Female Corrections Officers in jazz-blog-land!) — by James P. Johnson and Henry Creamer:
And finally, Mr. Berlin’s I’M PUTTING ALL MY EGGS IN ONE BASKET, with thanks to Fred Astaire, as always:
To quote Chubby Jackson, but without a touch of irony, “Wasn’t that swell?” I certainly think so.
May your happiness increase!