Autumn

is upon us. And since it’s been quite a while since the last time I posted some music, here’s a sampler of Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves). The song was originally composed by Joseph Kosma in 1945 on a poem by Prévert, for a Carné movie, Les portes de la nuit.

Let’s start with a damn fine version where Chet Baker and Paul Desmond lead the band. Steve Gadd on drums is kicking serious ass. It happened in 1992, which doesn’t make us any younger, does it?

Baker and Desmond take out most of the post-war Ashkenazic harmonics of the tune, but what would the gringos know about central Europe nostalgia anyway?

Once the song is a standard, anything goes, including this:

Fantastic! Gonzalo Rubalcaba, mass murdering on the piano. Has that anything to do with anything? No. But then, what would a Cuban know about Autumn leaves anyway?

Next version is my personal favorite from a female vocalist. Helen Merrill is outstanding in this frugal cover, gracefully supported by Ron Carter’s bass. Not a single superfluous note. Wait for the last bar, it’s a killer.

I’ll end this little autumnal monomania with a gem I dug waaay deep in the archives of vinyl dope.

Arthur Prysock is a clearcut badass. He says: I don’t always sing jazz standards, but when I do, the guy from Dos Equis and Chuck Norris do the backing vocals in a lamé dress.

PS. Obviously, I left out many great versions. Be sure to check at least Vera Lynn, Ahmad Jamal, Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

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