This commercialized mirth might strike you as extreme, but bear with me.
Perhaps this will resonate more effectively. The OKeh sleeve makes me smile.
This song has been turned into a terrible cliche through ninety years of routine performance, but this effort from March 8 — which seems like ages ago! — takes me right back to Billie and Louis. The cheerful creators here are Danny Coots, drums; Steve Pikal, string bass; Brian Holland, piano; Jacob Zimmerman, clarinet; Marc Caparone, cornet; special guest, Riley Baker, trombone. All this goodness took place at the 2020 Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California.
As an aside, I’d always thought of SMILING as a post-Wall Street crash song, but not only was Louis’ recording before the market imploded, but the first recording, by Bill Carlsen’s Orchestra, dates from May 1928 in Chicago. (Thanks to Charles Richdale for this prompt answer to my research query.) So the suggestion that smiling built community where tears did not was in its own way timeless. I hope readers can find reason to grin.
In the process of assembling this blog — which often feels like a small-town newspaper — I encountered this sweet 1928 recording, new to me, which I include because it begins with the verse. And I admire Seger Ellis. SMILING has gotten criticized by the “true jazz connoisseurs” as saccharine, over-simple: a song that needed improvisers to raise it above the mundane. I’d disagree: sometimes a sweet uncomplicated tonic is just the thing to settle one’s nerves.
May your happiness increase!