Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Love You Porgy

"I Love You, Porgy" is a duet from the opera Porgy and Bess with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It has one of the most hauntingly beautiful melodies ever written, while at the same time confronting the listener with the dual horrors of slavery and rape. It is hard to know what to do with a song like this. Can it only be played as a melancholy ballad to be respectful of the theme, or can it be played up-tempo just because you like the sound of it?

I first fell in love with this song when I heard it played by Bill Evans. Honestly, it was just a great sounding jazz tune to me; one that has been on my learn-it list for a long time. I've never seen Porgy and Bess. It was only when I started listening to vocalists like Nina Simone that I got the rude awakening what this song is about.

I've now got additional versions by Keith Jarrett, Alyson Green and Oscar Peterson. But the one that is truly unforgettable to me is a practice version from the Forever CD with Corea,Clarke, and White - and featuring Chaka Khan. I've tried to arrange the song so that it begins and ends with the respectfully melancholy ballad, but steals some of the up-temp ideas and turnarounds from this really special rendition.

(1935) Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, George Gershwin

I loves you, Porgy,
Don't let him take me
Don't let him handle me
And drive me mad
If you can keep me
I wanna stay here with you forever
And I'll be glad

Yes I loves you, Porgy,
Don't let him take me
Don't let him handle me
With his hot hands
If you can keep me
I wants to stay here
with you forever
I've got my man

I loves you, Porgy,
Don't let him take me
Don't let him handle me
And drive me mad
If you can keep me
I wanna stay here with you forever
I've got my man

Someday I know he's
coming to call me
He's going to handle me and hold me
So, it' going to be
like dying, Porgy
When he calls me
But when he comes I know
I'll have to go

I loves you, Porgy,
Don't let him take me
Honey, don't let him handle me
and drive me mad
If you can keep me
I wanna stay here with you forever
I've got my man

The Forever CD Corea, Clarke, and White with Chaka Khan




Nina Simone





Bill Evans








Keith Jarrett





Alyson Green

Geek Alert

The form that I'm using starts with a solo piano introduction that goes into a trio ballad verse.  At the end of that verse, the tempo picks up (more than double) and goes into a turnaround that is characterized by a pedal bass and a cool chord pattern stolen from Corea with some elements of what Chaka Khan was singing.

It then breaks into a piano solo verse and then the turnaround again.  The next verse features the melody played by vibes, guitar and piano while the piano fills in similar to what Chaka Khan does against the horn melody in her version. I'm playing all of these parts. (BTW- I've got Neil Swainson pitching in on bass again.)  

Then we're back to the ballad piano for a final half verse.  It ends with cymbals rolls on some solo piano arpeggios.

1 comment:

  1. Ken,

    This is wonderful!!!
    Great job.
    Love the vibes/guitar ensemble.

    ReplyDelete