Nov 17, 2010
Autumn lingers on here in New England, with a hint of winter in early morning frost. The foliage in Western Massachusetts is well past its peak, meaning that most people are no longer oohing and ahhing, but rather cursing as the rake the leaves that have fallen.
Hence it’s time for a posting of “Autumn Leaves”.
Originally it was a 1945 French song "Les feuilles mortes" (literally "The Dead Leaves") with music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert. Yves Montand (with Irène Joachim) introduced "Les feuilles mortes" in 1946 in the film Les Portes de la Nuit. American songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote English lyrics in 1947 and Jo Stafford was among the first to perform his version (not surprisingly, since she recorded for Mercer’s label, Capital Records).
“Autumn Leaves” has become a jazz standard in both languages, as an instrumental and with a singer.
For most jazz purists, the definitive version comes on Cannonball Adderly’s 1958 album Somethin’ Else. Arranged primarily by pianist Ahmad Jamal, the recording featured one of Miles Davis’ rare gigs as a sideman on trumpet, Adderly on alto sax, Hank Jones on piano, Sam Jones on bass and Art Blakey on drums. Interestingly, it was released in two parts as the A and B side of a single that year (Blue Note 45-1737).
Podcast 194 celebrates this great standard with a mixtape of sorts including my favorite versions of “Autumn Leaves”, We’ll begin with the Cannonball version, and end with the version recorded by Eric Clapton on his latest CD. All in all you get ten very different versions of the classic Composition, including:
Cannonball Adderly from Somethin’ Else.
Ahmad Jamal from The Legendary Okeh and Epic Recordings.
Patricia Barber from Night Club.
Joe Pass from Virtuoso 4.
Bill Evans from Portraits in Jazz.
Nat King Cole from
Ron Carter from The Golden
Tom Harrell from Time’s Mirror.
Keith Jarrett from At the Blue Note: The Complete Recordings.
Eric Clapton from Clapton.
Thanks for the idea to Breathe of Life and their July 2010 mixtape.