Rifftides reader Don Frese sent the following inquiry:
I have always assumed that “Gotta Be This or That:” is a vocal version, slightly altered, of “Jersey Bounce” by Bobby Plater and Tiny Bradshaw, but I see that Sonny Skylar is credited with both words and music. Similarly, I also assumed that “Late, Late Show” was a vocal version of Basie’s “9:20 Special,” the melodies are almost exactly the same. But again, I see it credited to Alfred and Berlin (Irving, I presume). Can you sort this out for me?
Being overcommitted, not to mention lazy, I passed the question along to the master jazz researcher and discographer Michael Fitzgerald. Mike, with Steve Albin, operates the invaluable JazzDiscography.com website. What would have taken me a month-and-a-half of digging, Mr. Fitzgerald came up with in about six minutes. Here is his reply, complete with links to performances of each of the tunes under discussion.
The similarities are superficial – similar melodic gestures are about it. Though both pairs of tunes share a common 32-bar AABA structure, these are not at all the same songs, despite any “almost exactly the same” claim. “9:20 Special” and “The Late, Late Show” are very different. Entirely different chords, entirely different bridges. “Gotta Be This Or That” and “Jersey Bounce”. “Jersey Bounce” shares the A section chords with “Take The A Train”, “Exactly Like You”, “The Girl From Ipanema”, and others. “Gotta Be This Or That” does not share those chords. Try singing the bridge of one over the other. Not the same.
Warm up your vocal chords, then click on the titles.
The Rifftides staff thanks Michael Fitzgerald for his help and suggests that a ramble through the JazzDiscography site will be more than worth the trip.