Since posting this blog entry on Lucky Thompson and Don Byas last year, I’ve discovered footage of Thompson playing “Tenderly.”
“Tenderly” was composed by Walter Gross in 1941 and originally titled “Walter’s Melody.” A few years later, vocalist Margaret Whiting introduced Gross to songwriter Jack Lawrence who retitled the tune and wrote its lyric. By 1946, Gross was working as the A&R director at Discovery Records, and there produced Sarah Vaughan’s premier recording of the song. Sarah had a modest hit with “Tenderly,” but it was Rosemary Clooney’s 1952 recording that made it a standard, and during the 1956-’57 season, it was the theme song of Rosie’s television show. Jazz Standards notes that the tune was given three of its most renowned performances on sessions recorded in Paris by Django Reinhardt, Don Byas and Johnny Hodges, all in 1951.
Thompson may have been following suit during his Parisian sojourn, but this is a masterful performance by any standard, and the film is nicely intercut with images of Paris, which Eli Thompson called home between 1956-’62.
We’ll hear Lucky Thompson’s 1963 recording of Jerome Kern songs in tonight’s Jazz a la Mode, as well as his appearance with the Miles Davis All-Stars on the hard bop blues classic, “Walkin’.”