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02/08/2015 16:20

S#09 – “Night And Day”

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“Night And Day”

Composed by Cole Porter

“Night and Day” is a popular song composed by Cole Porter. It was written for the 1932 musical play “Gay Divorce”. Fred Astaire introduced the theme on stage. It opened on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on November 29, 1932 and transferred to the Shubert Theatre on January 16, 1933 and closed on July 1, 1933 for a total run of 248 performances. Directed by Howard Lindsay with choreography by Barbara Newberry and Carl Randall was Astaire’s last Broadway show and danced with co-start Claire Luce.

He performed it again with Ginger Rogers in the 1934 film version of the show, renamed “The Gay Divorcee“, directed by Mark Sandrich and it became one of his signature pieces. The Hays Office (industry moral censorship guidelines) insisted on the name change, from “Gay Divorce” to “The Gay Divorcee“, believing that while a divorcee could be gay or lighthearted, it would be unseemly to allow a divorce to appear so.

Mimi Glossop (Ginger Rogers) arrives in England to seek a divorce from her geologist husband Cyril Glossop (William Austin), whom she hasn’t seen for several years. Under the guidance of her domineering and much-married aunt Hortense (Alice Brady), she consults incompetent and bumbling lawyer Egbert Fitzgerald (Edward Everett Horton), who happens to be one of Hortense’s previous husbands. He arranges for her to spend a night at a seaside hotel and to be caught in an adulterous relationship, for which purpose he hires a professional co-respondent, Rodolfo Tonetti (Erik Rhodes). But Egbert forgets to arrange for private detectives to “catch” the couple.

By coincidence, Guy Holden (Fred Astaire) an American dancer and friend of Egbert’s, who briefly met Mimi on her arrival in England, and who is now besotted with her, also arrives at the hotel, only to be mistaken by Mimi for the co-respondent she has been waiting for. While they are in Mimi’s bedroom, Tonetti arrives, revealing the truth, and holds them “prisoner” to suit the plan. They contrive to escape and dance the night away.

In the morning, after several mistakes with the waiter, Cyril arrives at the door, so Guy hides in the next room, while Mimi and Tonetti give a show of being lovers. When Cyril doesn’t believe them, Guy comes out and embraces Mimi in an attempt to convince him that he is her lover, but to no avail. It is an unwitting waiter (Eric Blore) who finally clears the whole thing up by revealing that Cyril himself is an adulterer, thus clearing the way for Mimi to get a divorce and marry Guy.

The song was so associated with Cole Porter, that when Hollywood first filmed his life story in 1946, the movie was entitled “Night and Day”.

“When Hollywood made it into a movie “Night And Day” was the only original Cole Porter tune to make the transition to the silver screen. Astaire was skeptical about the song and show at first, but Porter was skilled at matching his melodies to the dancer’s narrow vocal range. The end result was not only a perfect vehicle for Astaire, but also one of the top ten ASCAP-revenue producing songs of all time.” (1)

“I wonder if Porter’s unusual chord change (for a hit song of the ‘30s – most popular tunes then featured 32-bar choruses, divided into four 8-bar sections) into the second theme, which moves up a minor third rather than the more common shift of a fourth, was designed to ensure that the high notes here weren’t too high for his star performer. Or perhaps we can take at face value Porter’s claim to have been inspired by the Islamic call to prayer he heard during a trip to Morocco.” (1)

“The vocal leaps required are not child’s play – the range here is four notes beyond the octave – but still quite manageable for most singers. In any event, the shift imparts a piquant flavor to the whole and represents the moment when a song that might have been ho-hum reaches for greatness. The elongated 48-bar form and lopsided couplets of the lyrics enhance the ecstatic flow of the music.” (1)

“Swing bands were the first to see jazz potential in this song, with Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, and the Casa Loma Orchestra standing out as early adopters of “Night And Day”. Django Reinhardt, with his 1938 recording, confirmed that the song was also suitable for small combo performance.” (1)

“But Frank Sinatra did more than anyone to imprint Cole Porter’s song into the collective American consciousness – although, for the record, Porter didn’t like Sinatra covering his tunes because of the liberties the vocalist took with the words. Sinatra “was so excited you almost believed he had never recorded before”, conductor Alex Stordahl later recalled. “I think this was the turning point in his career”. Sinatra would record “Night And Day” again in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, yet never surpass the innocence and passion conveyed on this early vintage performance (1942).” (1)

“Jazz fans have no shortage of high-octane versions of this song to enjoy. Teddy Wilson’s Keystone transcriptions from 1939 and 1940 include a finely etched solo rendition, while Mary Lou Williams offered up a more swinging interpretation five years later. Bill Evans adopted a much different attitude on his 1958 trio outing, and his acerbic reworking of the standard will surprise those who associate this pianist only with a tranquil impressionism. Among sax versions, Sonny Rollins and Stan Getz both recorded standout tracks within a few days of each other in 1964, and Joe Henderson did the same five months later.” (1)

“Yet this litany of tenorists would be incomplete without the inclusion Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, a fiercely inventive soloist who often gets forgotten amidst his more progressive contemporaries, but put in as strong a claim as ant to this song. Check out, for a persuasive example of Lockjaw’s sax heroics, his 1962 version, which will give you a sense of why this player was so formidable in a horn battle”. (1)

(1) extracts from “The Jazz Standards”, Ted Gioia, 2012

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Song Versions

Django Reinhardt with The Hot Club De France Quintet, Jan. 1938
Frank Sinatra & Axel Stordahl and His Orchestra, Jan. 1942
Bill Evans, from “Everybody Digs Bill Evans“, Dec. 1958
Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, from “Goin’ To The Meeting“, May 1962

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Lyrics

Astaire’s version

Like the beat, beat, beat of the tom tom
When the jungle shadows fall
Like the tick,tick, tock of the stately clock
As it stands against the wall

Like the drip, drip, drip of the rain drops
When the summer showers through
So a voice within me keeps repeating
You, you, you

Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon and under the sun
Whether near to me or far, it’s no matter darling where you are
I think of you

Night and day, day and night, why is it so?
That this longing for you follows where ever I go
In the roaring traffics boom, in the silence of my lonely room
I think of you

Night and day, night and day, under the hide of me
Theres an such a hungry yearning burning inside of me
And this torment won’t be through
Till you let me spend my life making love to you
Day and night, night and day

Sinatra’s version

Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon and under the sun
Whether near to me or far, it’s no matter darling where you are
I think of you

Day and night, night and day, why is it so?
That this longing for you follows where ever I go
In the roaring traffics boom or in the silence of my lonely room
I think of you

Day and night, night and day, under the hide of me
Theres an such a hungry yearning burning inside of me
And this torment won’t be through
Till you let me spend my life making love to you
Day and night, night and day

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