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Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

Afterglow Plays Cole Porter

Johnny Hartman, Blossom Dearie, Dean Martin and others help us pay tribute to the Indiana songwriter.

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Cole Porter songbook

Photo: Wikipedia

From Peru, Indiana to Paris: Cole Porter, Hoosier cosmopolitan.

You have almost undoubtedly heard the songs of Cole Porter before. It would be difficult to grow up in the 20th or now the 21st century and not encounter “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” and numerous other Porter standards in one guise or another. Just recently some of Porter’s songs and Porter as a character appeared in Woody Allen’s popular time-travel-trip to the 1920s, Midnight In Paris.

Porter’s songs started arriving to a wider audience at a time when the first great wave of jazz, the hot-jazz era of the 1920s, was subsiding, bland, commercial “sweet music” was holding sway, and the big-band era was still several years off. His melodies brimmed with rhythmic, harmonic and structural vitality that big-band leaders in the 1930s and beboppers in the 1940s found exciting, a seemingly-endless treasure trove of material to make great jazz with. Artie Shaw put himself on the map with his version of Porter’s “Beguine the Beguine” in 1938, and Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie produced one of the breakthrough recordings of the bebop era in 1945 with “Hot House,” which is a reinvented version of Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love.” By the 1950s Porter’s music was solidly established as part of the emerging jazz canon,and it’s been there ever since.

Porter’s lyrics are also full of longing, wit, inventive wordplay, beauty, pain, love in all of its sensual and haunted guises, humor that’s both urbane and at its core down-to-earth and replete with naughty delight, the most euphoric highs and the most melancholic lows. While they sprang from the composer’s sophisticated cosmopolitan life, they remind us that whatever your income or cultural bakcground, you’re a human being capable of feeling all of the emotions and experience that life has to offer. In this edition of Afterglow we’ll hear renditions of Porter’s songs from Anita O’Day, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, and other masters of popular-song performance.

Music Heard On This Episode

I Love You
Anita O'Day — Swings Cole Porter With Billy May (Polygram, 1991)
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I Love You
Anita O'Day — Swings Cole Porter With Billy May (Polygram, 1991)
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Always True To You In My Fashion
Blossom Dearie — Night And Day: The Cole Porter Songbook (Polygram, 1990)
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Let's Fly Away
Lee Wiley — Sings The Songs of George And Ira Gershwin And Cole Porter (Audiophile, 1994)
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You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
Helen Merrill — Helen Merrill And Clifford Brown (Polygram, 1990)
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Down In The Depths On The 90th Floor
Johnny Hartman — Songs From The Heart (Rhino/WEA, 2000)
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I Love Paris
Dean Martin — French Style/Dino Latino (Collector's Choice, 2002)
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In The Still Of The Night
Ella Fitzgerald — Sings The Cole Porter Songbook (Verve, 1997)
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So In Love
Peggy Lee — I Like Men! (Capitol, 2011)
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Begin The Beguine
Tony Bennett — Fifty Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett (Sony, 2004)
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I've Got You Under My Skin (midpoint music bed)
Paul Desmond — It's De Lovely: The Authentic Cole Porter (RCA, 2004)
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Get Out Of Town
Julie London — All Through The Night (Capitol, 2007)
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You Do Something To Me
Marlene Dietrich — You're Sensational: Cole Porter In the 1920s, 40s and 50s (Koch/Indiana Historical Society, 1999)
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My Heart Belongs To Daddy
Dizzy Gillespie — Have Trumpet, Will Excite! (Verve, 2001)
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Easy To Love
Billie Holiday — Solitude (Polygram, 1993)
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Dream Dancing
Zoot Sims — Warm Tenor (Pablo, 1990)
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Night And Day
Frank Sinatra — Sings Cole Porter (Sony, 2008)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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