Jerome Kern (pictured) wrote his last song nearly 70 years ago, but the freshness of its melody, hipness of its harmonies, surprise of its extended form and charm of Oscar Hammerstein II’s lyric make it seem perpetually new. Jan Clayton sang the new song, “Nobody Else But Me,” for Kern’s and Hammerstein’s 1946 Broadway revival of their 1927 masterpiece Show Boat. Lou Dinning had the vocal in Paul Weston’s popular early recording. Among the countless musicians entranced by the piece since then have been Sarah Vaughan, Stan Getz, Tony Bennett, Bill Evans, Jimmy Raney, Joe Pass, Irene Kral with Junior Mance, and Pinky Winters with Lou Levy and Monty Budwig.
A visit to YouTube can turn up versions of the piece by amateurs posting home videos as well as performances by seasoned professionals. In the latter category, one of the most recent features the team of Wesla Whitfield and her pianist husband Mike Greensill. It was filmed at last fall’s Allegheny Jazz Party, with guitarist Howard Alden, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen and bassist Kerry Lewis sitting in. They include the verse, a wonderful idea.
Whitfield and Greensill made “Nobody Else But Me” the title song of a 2006 CD.
While we’re at it, let’s listen to one of the great instrumental versions of Kern’s song. Here’s Stan Getz with Jimmy Rowles, piano; Bobby Whitlock, bass; and Max Roach, drums.
That Getz album includes some of his best work from the mid-1950s, with a variety of stellar sidemen.
Have a good weekend.