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Carefully Taught : Songlist

Description of songs written by Ruthie Ristich

Samba de Orfeo
You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught
Midnight Sun [1947]
I Only Have Eyes for You
I Wish You Love [1963]
Please Send Me Someone to Love
Easy to Love [1936]
Nature Boy
It's Nice Weather for Ducks
You Don't Know What Love Is
Invitation
For All We Know [1934]
Where is Love
Never Never Land

CD Credits

 

Samba de Orfeo
Luiz Bonfá -music
Evelyn Rosenthal-English lyrics

My dear friend Evelyn Rosenthal wrote these English lyrics in the spirit of the myth, as portrayed in the film. Bill Brinkley came up with the rhythmic idea for the coda then Alain re-harmonized it.

Brazilian composers Luiz Bonfá and Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote the music for the film "Black Orpheus" (in Portuguese, Orfeu Negro). Directed by Marcel Camus, this 1959 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize winner (also Oscar's Best Foreign Film, and Golden Globe winner) updated the Orpheus-Eurydice legend against the colorful background of Carnival in Brazil. The film, based on Vinícius de Moraes's musical play "Orfeu da Conceição," not only showcased samba, but also made Jobim and Bonfá international stars. From the opening title scene, where favelistas burst through an ancient frieze of Orpheus and Eurydice, to the climactic Carnival parade, music pervades practically every moment of the film. "Samba de Orfeo" is sung and played at the very end by children who, in keeping with the myth of Orpheus, believe that the music they play is beautiful enough to seduce the sun into rising.

[English lyrics by Evelyn Rosenthal]
Beyond the moon, above the stars
There is a music that the heart has heard before you
You hear the sound of soft guitars
That’s Orpheus singing out his love to wake the dawn

The sun comes up begins the day
In all his softest summer light he will surround you
Though when it rains he goes away
It’s only to hide his shining heart behind a cloud

Close your eyes and night’s begun
Orpheus sings his lullaby to the sun

A velvet sky, a golden moon
A thousand dreams to spend till night time ends in morning
The poet sings, and very soon
Another day has been awakened by his song

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You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught
Richard Rodgers-music
Oscar Hammerstein II-lyrics

The 2 bar bass line motif popped into my head one day while driving. I jotted it down at a red light, then kept the post-it with this fragment on my piano for about 5 years. When I was thinking of songs and arrangements for the CD I thought it might set up an interesting minor groove for this story about racial prejudice. The vocal harmony for the bass line followed, as well as the 7/4 meter and simple re-harmonization.

The Pulitzer prize winning musical South Pacific was first produced at the Majestic theater on April 7, 1949 (Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza appeared in the stage production. Mitzi Gaynor and Ray Walston appeared in the film version). The play was based on several stories from James Michener’s book Tales of the South Pacific, specifically two that dealt with wartime romances complicated by racial issues.

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Midnight Sun [1947]
Lionel Hampton, Francis J. (Sonny) Burke-music
Johnny Mercer-lyrics

This arrangement started out as a vocal/percussion duet medley with Jun Saito back in 1982. I liked the 6/8 feel changing into a double time samba feel during the bridge. Bassist Ira Coleman picked out a west African melodic and rhythmic idea for the first A section with Alain strumming the harmonics on the strings of the Hamburg Steinway grand piano with his right hand, while depressing the keys with his left. The lyrics are sung wistfully and rather straight to reflect the mystery of attraction and nature.

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I Only Have Eyes for You
Harry Warren-music
Al Dubin-lyrics

I re-harmonized this and set it in a lilting 3/4 time. Teese used the harmony of the first four bars and wrote a sequence of open fourths as an introduction for the piano that was used to bookend the arrangement, too. It sets up a hauntingly moody feeling.

Originally written in 1934 and featured in several films. Billie Holiday covered it as well as Sinatra, Ella and many others. Popularly revived by the doo-wop vocal group The Flamingos.

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I Wish You Love [1963]
Charles Trenet-music (and original French lyrics)
Albert Beach-English lyrics

A simple eighth note rhythm in the bass sets up the tempo between the rubato verse and the chorus. The voice joins in singing major seconds with the bass line into a medium swing feel. The lyric is about someone who has been hurt making a big effort to forget and forgive and move on.

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Please Send Me Someone to Love
Percy Mayfield

Ed Friedland accompanies me on electric tenor bass (tuned up a fourth). We made this in his living room studio.

I’ve always loved this song since hearing Nancy Wilson’s recording. I hope Percy made lots of money from this tune. He also wrote Hit the Road Jack. Other artists who’ve recorded this song include Dinah Washington, Sade, Nancy Wilson, Fiona Apple, Aretha, Jeff Buckley, etc. I’ve never heard anyone except Nancy and Percy sing it.

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Easy to Love [1936]
Cole Porter

Fun up tempo swing version. Solo voice at the beginning feels like a slower time feel since the melody has so much space in between notes. When the bass joins in there is an unexpected moment as the quarter note is much faster than you’d think. The arrangement was inspired by a version Sarah Vaughan recorded in 1961 with Mundell Lowe on guitar and George Duvivier on bass called After Hours. She starts it with solo voice, snapping her fingers on 2 and 4. This recording is my favorite in the vocal jazz category—hands down it has everything: swing, soul, masterful playing, playfulness—chamber jazz at its finest.

This was featured in the musical film Born to Dance. It was also used in Night and Day, a biopic about Cole with Cary Grant, Mary Martin, and Alexis Smith.

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Nature Boy
Eden Ahbez

Born in 1908 as Alexander Aberle this man became a long-haired wandering mystic poet. Transplanted to sunny southern California he lived as a homeless person under the Hollywood sign. Parking cars for the likes of Nat King Cole enabled him to give a copy of this song to Nat. It went to #1 in 1948. Once it was a big hit, law suits followed as Nature Boy was very similar to Herman Yablokoff’s Yiddish song “Schweig Mein Hartz” (Be Calm, My Heart) and a traditional black American spiritual, “Sweet Jesus Boy”.

The simple arrangement supports the timeless lyrical message.

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It’s Nice Weather for Ducks
Tommy Wolf-music
Fran Landesman-lyrics

Learned this song from Irene Kral’s 1977 recording “Kral Space”. What’s not to like? It’s clever, fun and it swings…and in a minor key! I cannot verify that the pianist on her recording, Alan Broadbent, made up the clever bass line. I altered the arrangement slightly.

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You Don’t Know What Love Is
Gene de Paul-music
Don Raye-lyrics

Originally written for a movie musical called Keep ‘em Flying in the 1940’s.

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Invitation
Bronislaw Kaper-music
Francis Webster-lyrics
I love the lyrics, the chords and the melody of this extraordinary song.

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For All We Know [1934]
J. Fred Coots-music
Sam Lewis-lyrics

I first heard this poignant heartfelt ballad while singing with the Don’t Call Me Honey Big Band. I never heard the verse until Billie Holiday sang her mournful version on Lady in Satin, one of her last recordings. Teese wrote the bittersweet melodic statement in the introduction, using the chords from the first four bars of the tune. This is re-stated for the coda. I wanted an open feeling for this ballad so I put it in a slow 3/4 time (after the verse).

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Where is Love
Lionel Bart
Bill Brinkley accompanies my voice using mostly harmonics on his guitar—with an out of time feel. We recorded this then forgot about it back in 1985. After finding it on a 1/4” reel 15 years later I still liked the feeling of it. Gaye Tolan Hatfield suggested overdubbing some hand percussion to fill it out a bit more.

Written in 1960 for the stage musical Oliver! The film version followed, winning an Oscar for best picture. Lionel Bart sold off his copyright to finance another show...too bad!

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Never Never Land
Jule Styne-music
Adolf Green, Betty Comden-lyrics

The arrangement is based on an Art Blakey recording from his album Kyoto. I love the pattern the bass sets up that is answered with a tense cluster of seconds by the keyboard.
Written in 1955 for a revised Broadway version of Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin. Based on the play written in 1904 by J.M. Barrie.

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