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Rolling Stone India’s Jazz Playlist

Hear jazz tracks with witty lyrics this week

Sunil Sampat Mar 22, 2019

Scroll down to listen to Rolling Stone India's weekly Jazz Playlist.

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We are beginning a weekly series of Jazz playlists; today is the first of these. Each playlist will be theme-based with suggested listening of that particular theme. We start this series on a lighter note–jazz songs with lyrics worth paying attention to.

Let’s take a look at some interesting jazz recordings. These are made with tongue-firmly-in-cheek by otherwise serious jazz musicians — like Charlie Parker backing a vocalist and Leo Watson singing “romance without finance is a nuisance.” There are several such examples of cheeky lyrics and here is a suggested list of such songs that might set you off looking for more:

1. Jon Hendricks ”“ “Gimme That Wine!”

A serious jazz vocalist, lyricist and singer, Hendricks sends us in splits with his corny lyrics. There are a few versions of this song, all by him. We recommend the one from “Live at Newport: Lambert Hendricks and Bavan.”

2. Blossom Dearie – “My Attorney Bernie”

Blossom Dearie is a charming jazz vocalist with a little girl like voice. Here, she seems to be enjoying herself relating her tale with her attorney.

3. Oscar Brown Jr. – “The Snake”

A fine vocalist, Oscar Brown Jr. sings about an encounter between a sweet old lady and a snake. Enjoy the punch line at the song’s end.

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4. Dave Frishberg- “I Wanna Be a Sideman”

Singer songwriter Dave Frishberg laments the pain of being a band leader with all he has to do just to keep the band going. He’d rather be a sideman in a band and tells you why, in song.

5. Annie Ross – “Farmer’s Market”

Ross has put very clever lyrics to trumpeter Art Farmer’s fine instrumental composition, sung entirely to the original tune.

6. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”

These two jazz greats singing and swinging a song from a fine songwriter. The lyrics tell their own tale.

7. Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye- “The Five Penny Saints”

This is from the movie The Five Pennies where Danny Kaye plays jazz cornetist Red Nichols. This duet, a serious variation of the famous jazz song “The Saints Go Marching In” has cleverly inspired lyrics.


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