Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring is Here (1938)

The first chart hit version of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's 1938 composition "Spring is Here", as adapted from the Broadway production of I Married an Angel. Reisman was an extremely popular bandleader during the 1930s who enjoyed success with his recordings of several songs that were to become jazz standards including "Yesterdays" and "Alone Together". The vocal refrain on his version of "Spring is Here" was by Felix Knight, known by most Statesiders of a certain age and older as Tom-Tom in Laurel and Hardy's Babes in Toyland.

4 years later, the song reached a wider audience courtesy of Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy's performance of the song in the drastically tamer film version of I Married an Angel. The movie was a box-office and critical failure, known in the history books more for what it might have been rather than what audiences saw in the theaters. One can thank the Hays Code and its neutering effect on a lot of film adaptations of contemporaneous Broadway source material.

The first jazz version of song is a matter that is in dispute. The 1954 10" LP (and 7" EP) Interpretations by the Stan Getz Quintet featured a stand-out early adoption of the tune by younger modernists. Recorded in the Summer of 1953 in Los Angeles for Norman Granz's Norgran label, Getz was joined by Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone, Johnny Williams (as in, yes, that John Williams) at the piano, Teddy Kotick playing the bass, and Frank Isola behind the drums.

For more details about this composition and its history, I heartily recommend the entry here.