Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

This Is All I Ask: Gordon Jenkins

Gordon Jenkins was renowned as an arranger, but he also wrote some hit songs. We'll hear them done by Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Billie Holiday and more.

Play Episode (Real Audio)
Gordon Jenkins musical prodigy

Photo: Album cover

Gordon Jenkins worked as an arranger, conductor and composer with a wide variety of renowned American musical performers—everybody from Johnny Cash, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to Judy Garland, the Andrews Sisters and Frank Sinatra.

Composer Gordon Jenkins was best-known for his arranging work–very lush with the strings, a tendency that has grated on some critics and listeners over the year–but singers like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole did some of their best work with him.

Jazz scholar Will Friedwald has written that “His sound was grandiose, somewhat pretentious—at times even laughably so—but always honestly sincere.” And that quality comes through in the songs that Jenkins wrote as well.

“This Is All I Ask” pays tribute to the Jenkins centennial by highlighting those songs, including Bing Crosby’s performance of “San Fernando Valley,” Peggy Lee’s recording of “When a Woman Loves a Man,” Billie Holiday’s take on “P.S. I Love You,” and Frank Sinatra’s haunting rendition of what may have been Jenkins’ most famous tune, “Goodbye.”

We’ll also hear excerpts from Jenkin’s opus Manhattan Tower.

Afterglow anecdote: Jenkins wrote the song “I Thought About Marie” for Nat King Cole’s wife, Marie Ellington. Cole proposed to Ellington while Jenkins’ Manhattan Tower was playing in the background.

Watch Frank Sinatra perform “This Is All I Ask” in 1965:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VujWEeH33Ac

Music Heard On This Episode

This Is All I Ask
Nat King Cole — The Very Thought of You (Collectors' Choice, 1958)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
This Is All I Ask
Nat King Cole — The Very Thought of You (Collectors' Choice, 1958)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Homesick, That's All
Frank Sinatra — The V-Discs (Sony, 1994)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
San Fernando Valley
Bing Crosby — Bing: His Legendary Years (MCA, 1993)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Blue Prelude
Woody Herman — Blues on Parade (Decca, 1991)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
When a Woman Loves a Man
Peggy Lee — Complete Capitol Transcriptions (Blue Note/Mosaic, 2001)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Goodbye
Frank Sinatra — Only the Lonely (Capitol, 1958)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
You Have Taken My Heart
Gordon Jenkins — A Musical Prodigy (Jasmine, 2006)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
That's All There Is, There Isn't Anymore
Nat King Cole — Love Is the Thing/Where Did Everyone Go (Collectors' Choice, 2007)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
I Thought About Marie
Nat King Cole — Love Is the Thing/Where Did Everyone Go (Collectors' Choice, 2007)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Manhattan Tower--Magical City
Gordon Jenkins — A Musical Prodigy (Jasmine, 2006)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
New York's My Home
Ray Charles — The Genius Hits the Road (Concord, 2009)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Never Leave Me
Patti Page — Sings You Go to My Head and Songs From Manhattan Tower (Sepia, 2007)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Love in a Tower (conclusion)
Gordon Jenkins — A Musical Prodigy (Jasmine, 2006)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
I Loved Her
Frank Sinatra — She Shot Me Down (Phantasm/Reprise, 1981)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
P.S. I Love You
Billie Holiday — Complete Verve Studio Master Takes (Verve, 2005)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
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.

View all posts by this author »

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Afterglow:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Afterglow

About The Host

Search Afterglow

This Week On Night Lights

Charles McPherson’s Post-Bird Bop

charles mcpherson bebop revisited

Charles McPherson spent his early career under the spell of Charlie Parker, but he fired the Parker sound with his own intense energy and artistic skills.

Read more »

Night Lights is WFIU's weekly program of classic jazz hosted by David Brent Johnson.

More from Night Lights »