Newsflash!

Can’t Help Singing (Abbey Lincoln/Hank Jones), 1944

September 5, 2016
I’d seen the movie Can’t Help Singing (1944) with Deana Durbin and Robert Paige a very long time ago, featuring the song of the same name by Jerome Kern. If you’ve seen the film (a Western), you’ll know Miss Durbin sang it with an orchestra very much an up-tempo number almost as one might imagine a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, if set in the American west.
 
I never really took to the song until the other day, searching for gems to add to my repetoire, I heard Abbey Lincoln and Hank Jones. Almost couldn’t believe it was the same song. What a mighty expression that woman was capable of, and so fetchingly. I’ve transcribed it and it’s going right into the repertoire. Listen to this wonderful version.

“So Far” from Allegro (1947)

September 1, 2016
“So Far,” another number I’ve dusted off and brought back into my repetoire after many years. It originated in the long forgotten musical, Allegro (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II), which premiered in New York in 1947. Here sung brilliantly and beautifully by Billy Eckstine, also largely forgotten.
 
I never cease to be in awe of American performers of the 40s and 50s for the quality of their work, in idea, in form and in execution. This tradition we have — yes, it is an American tradition of song — is so wealthy and fertile that it can be readily mined for gold like this.
 

On a Wonderful Day Like Today

August 31, 2016
I added “My Kind of Girl” to the repetoire (you’ll know the Basie/Sinatra version) and learned to my surprise Leslie Bricusse wrote it.
 
Then I thought of that great show “The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd” and the marquees on Broadway declaring in a huge font ANTHONY NEWLEY I saw as a toddler in ’65 or ’66.
 
I’d forgotten about this wonderful song from the show — “On a Wonderful Day Like Today — also by Bricusse (and Newley), which I promptly put back in the repetoire.  It’s the first song he sings in this video.

A New Recording by Tony LaVorgna, My Long-time Colleague

August 8, 2016

More of the fine work my long-time colleague, Tony LaVorgna, has recently recorded. This waltz, which I recall with lyrics under another title, is in this version an instrumental with Tony playing all the parts. At the time he wrote it, Tony was studying with Bill Finnegan, who arranged (among many others) Glenn Miller’s Little Brown Jug. Recorded at Norman Johnson‘s studio, Manor Recording.

Even More Songs You’ll Hear in Richie’s Solo Show

August 5, 2016

More songs you’ll hear in my solo show (artist best known for the song in parentheses). More shows coming very soon.

Broadway Baby (Sondheim)
Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head (B.J. Thomas)
Hooked on a Feeling (Blue Swede)
The Catcher in the Rye (Chip Mergott)
I’ve Heard That Song Before (Harry James)
Hey Jude (Beatles)

Even More Songs Added to Richie’s Solo Show Roster

July 26, 2016

More great songs added to my solo show song roster (with the act that made it famous in parentheses). These are delightful songs to sing with light guitar accompaniment.

Somewhere (West Side Story)
A Kiss to Build a Dream On (Louis Armstrong)
Blame it on my Youth (Nat Cole)
Cryin’ Time (Buck Owens)
You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby (Bing Crosby)
My Sugar is So Refined (Swing Fever — well, they did a great big band version of it!)

A few more songs added to Richie Kaye’s tune roster

July 18, 2016

A few more songs added to my solo show tune roster this week (with perfomers who recorded the song in parentheses):

Destination Moon (Nat Cole, Dinah Washington)
Waiting at the End of the Road (Ethel Waters)
Why Baby Why (George Jones, The Secret Sisters)
As Time Goes By (Louis Armstrong)
Moon River (Andy Williams)
La Poupée Qui Fait Non (Michael Polnareff)

Richie Kaye’s Music & Mirth — Our 2011 Album

July 11, 2016
I’d not seen until today this delightful bit of praise for our 2011 album, “Richie Kaye’s Music & Mirth, ” recorded with my colleague, Tony LaVorgna and Sam Kuslan (on two tracks).
 
“If you were looking for music that puts you on a “downer” or amplifies your “angst,” you’ll have to look elsewhere. I can’t help but thinking “Laurel & Hardy” (or Ozzie & Harriet, for that matter – back in Ozzie’s early days as a bandleader) as I listen to “Love Is Just Around The Corner“ LOL! You must remember that I grew up in an age when music like this was just giving way to the protest music of the ’60’s, so the idea of humor and FUN in music isn’t foreign to me at all. And tunes like the somewhat corny-sounding lyrics on “Sweet Tooth” aren’t actually as nuts as they sound. The idea back then was to cut a rug and have a ball and this kind of music allowed you to do just that. I give Richie and his sidekick Tony LaVorgna a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED on this one, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.” — Rotcod Jazz

My Japan Connection to “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”

July 5, 2016
A fun note about “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” I first learned it in Japan and out of necessity. In the 1980s, it and the Tennessee Waltz were the two most requested English language sing-alongs. In between the enka (演歌) — Japanese popular music that sounds traditional — I would nestle a few of these.
 
Patrons would send over $150 bottles of Nikka to me after singing these numbers — something that occurred repeatedly. But the man who liked to hear me sing the most, other than my mentor and dear friend Hayano-san 早野 (whom I miss terribly to this day), was not an ordinary every day kind of person He was a made member of the Osaka yakuza and as tough and crude a man, smiling constantly, as ever I have met. And I met him by chance. I was briefly hospitalized (a reaction to the gold flake in sake, I am told, or my drink had been spiked) and he was in the bed next to mine.
 
Covered neck to waist in colorful tattoos, which he proudly displayed and explained to me that included a jinja (shrine), a beautiful and barely dressed blonde and markings that showed where he belonged in the organization. And, of course, he showed me his pinky, which he’d severed at the first joint, in ritual fashion and without anesthesia. I was grateful when he taught me how to curse like a gangster in the Osaka dialect. It actually got me out of a scrape once.
 
Being young and adventurous (I’m still both, but wiser), and actually liking this guy a good deal, I accepted his invitation to his club, where I got up and sang, after some heavy drinking. Thinking back on this, he could have been setting me up for a huge bill — drinking whiskey at a club routinely cost many $100s. But he didn’t. Instead, he had other of his black-suited gangster friends along to toast our collective health as we all sang, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” It was a great night.
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