In the northern hemisphere, it is the first day of spring. In our corner of the Pacific Northwest, the season dawned grey, cloudy and looking as if any minute the sky might open up with rain rather than sunshine. We’re compensating with a photograph that expresses hope. Coming out of a relentlessly snowy winter around here, spring is in our hearts, if not in our weather forecast.
I awakened with the back of my mind repeating the melody of a classic 1943 Jimmy Van Heusen-Johnny Burke song. Let’s listen to two versions of “Suddenly It’s Spring.” The first is by Frank Sinatra from an album evidently made up of previously unissued recordings. Unfortunately, the sound remastering fails to match the quality of Sinatra’s singing, but he captures the song’s essence.
Over the years, many jazz artists have recorded “Suddenly It’s Spring,” Among them Phil Woods, Kenny Dorham, George Shearing, Al Cohn, Nikki Parrott, Zoot Sims and Dave Pell. The recording I keep going back to is Stan Getz’s 1955 version with Conte Candoli, trumpet; Lou Levy, piano: Leroy Vinnegar, bass; and Shelly Manne, drums. It’s from Getz’s West Coast Jazz album.
Have a happy spring.
Addendum (3/21/17): It just came to my attention that “Suddenly It’s Spring” is one of 13 Burke & Van Heusen songs in Burke Beautiful, a new album by singer Sarah Paige and pianist Keith Ingham. Ms. Paige’s sensitive delivery of the lyric and melody is a pleasure. The veteran pianist Ingham accompanies her beautifully throughout the CD. Of the three songs not composed by Van Heusen, Burke wrote his own music for the seldom-heard “He Makes Me Feel I’m Lovely” and collaborated with Duke Ellington on another rarity, “A Hundred Dreams From Now.” Bob Haggart was Burke’s composer partner for “What’s New?” one of the great non-rarities among popular songs. This unheralded collection is a vital introduction to, or reminder of, one of America’s finest songwriters.