They call it ‘puppy love.’ The first time your heart skips a beat when you’re in the same room with the ‘object of your affection.’ Like Charlie Brown’s ‘little red-headed girl’ in Peanuts comic strips, it might’ve been a classmate who first caught your eye.
Do you remember that grade school tradition—decorating old shoe boxes with doilies and hearts cut out of red construction paper, all sticky with Elmer’s glue—and hoping the ‘right’ person would drop a Valentine through the slot on top? It hasn’t gotten any easier over time. Though one candy heart etched with the words “Be Mine” can still work wonders.
Love makes us do all sorts of things—from the sublime to the ridiculous. Valentine’s Day brings out our most sentimental feelings one moment and then inspires the goofiest humor the next. This week, Riverwalk Jazz explores both sides of the coin on our concert of love songs from the interwar years, interpreted by our stable of great performers sitting in with The Jim Cullum Jazz Band.
Rebecca Kilgore is dedicated to preserving and interpreting great vocal jazz of the ’30s and ’40s, an era noted for high-quality songwriting and heartfelt lyrics. Rebecca performs worldwide at jazz festivals, parties and cruises. She is a frequent guest on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and has appeared with Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall. On this Riverwalk Jazz Valentine concert for lovebirds, Becky opens the show with a swinging ”Make Someone Happy” and “Swingin’ Down the Lane.”
Australian vocalist Nina Ferro now makes London her home. Nina interprets two great lyrics by Dorothy Fields on songs composed in collaboration with Jerome Kern for the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie Swingtime—the drop dead romantic, “The Way You Look Tonight” and the dry, ironic “A Fine Romance.”
Cole Porter’s irreverent, saucy take on love and romance comes across in Vernel Bagneris’ performance of Cole’s “Let’s Misbehave” —a perfect pairing with the feminine perspective on ’the battle of the sexes’ found in Fields’ “A Fine Romance.” Vernel offers a playful rendition of Andy Razhaf’s lyrics, replete with silly double entendres, on James P. Johnson’s, ”A Porter’s Love Song to a Chambermaid.” Nina parries with the complete, unexpurgated lyrics to Cole Porter’s triumph of punning double-entendre, “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love.”
To round out the final act of our Riverwalk Jazz Valentine, guitarist John Pizzarelli recalls the intimate sound of Nat Cole with “I Love You for Sentimental Reasons,” New Orleans’ Topsy Chapman celebrates the long lasting, ”ever-after” kind of love with a jazz version of Irving Berlin’s “Always,” and Becky Kilgore longs to be ”The Folks Who Live on the Hill.”
After all the ‘making up’ and ‘breaking up’ on our musical trip through the facets of romantic love, Broadway’s Carol Woods sends our Valentine’s wish that you are in it, now and forever, with Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s emphatic salute to true love, “Come Rain or Come Shine.”
Photo credit for Home Page and Recent Radio Broadcast Page: Valentine card image courtesy artdecoblog.blogspot.com
Text based on Riverwalk Jazz script by Margaret Moos Pick ©2008