Symphonics Selections: Summertime

Symphonic Selections

It’s the middle of summer in Seoul. I’m melting from the heat and the humidity, and I’m honestly ready for this miserable weather to end. I’m really not sure if there is one good thing I can say about summer at the moment . . . except for the song “Summertime“. This song mentions that the livin’ is easy, but I digress. Still, this is one of my favourite jazz songs. Originally composed by George Gershwin for his opera, Porgy and Bess, this famous song is a jazz standards and has been covered by many artists. Some pieces are purely instrumental, but there are also vocal versions. For this round of Symphonic Selections, I decided to feature two arrangements of this piece — an instrumental and a vocal version.

This is the instrumental arrangement performed by the late Charlie Parker. His saxophone performance is utterly sublime. I can picture myself in a jazz bar with a cocktail while I listen to this version. It’s more upbeat than some other arrangement, but I can relax to this easily. It is a short piece, but it’s a beautifully performed one.

As for the vocal version, my absolute favourite one is done by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, two of the best American jazz performers ever. Armstrong’s familiar scratchy voice and his clear trumpeting with Fitzgerald’s sweet voice make for a great combination. Their rendition of “Summertime” is pure genius. Though I find Parker’s version to be more upbeat, Armstrong and Fitzgerald’s version sends shiver down my spine. If I were to envision Parker’s version in a jazz bar, I can so picture myself listening to this on a porch, swinging in a hammock, with some iced tea on the side, with Uncle Louis and Aunt Ella telling me stories of bygone days . . .

Are you familiar with this song? Of the two above, which do you like better? Are there any other versions of “Summertime” you’d recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments!


  1. That is a good song. I love Jazz. This summer heat is killer though. I cannot stand to go outside. Normally we have hot days here but this is unusual for it to be so humid as well. I step outside for 5 seconds and come back in drenched,. haha

    • Yeah, I getting drenched in seconds when I go out. I am so over summer and ready for winter!

  2. Loooooove this song! It brings back memories of my grandma’s house. I just always picture her cleaning her house and giving us iced teas while we’d watch t.v. whenever I hear something jazzy. She played the Billie Holiday rendition a lot, but I also remember hearing this version too.

    • Aww! Thanks for sharing your memories ^_^ Billie Holiday’s version is great, too, but I’ve always preferred Ella’s voice over hers :D

  3. Summertime!! I love this song so much. :D The vocal version is my favorite by far. I wish it made it into Fallout (HAH), but her song with The Inkspots, “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” made it in Fallout 3. It’s one of my faves from the game. :)

    • Ooooh. I’ll have to look into that song! And yes, I can so see “Summertime” be in Fallout XD

  4. I admit I wasn’t familiar with Summertime until my boyfriend introduced me to it – he’s a big jazz fan! I love the differences and similarities from each version! :D I think I like the vocal version a lot more though :P

    • Glad you know this song :D Your boyfriend has good taste XD Jazz is always a great genre!

  5. I am familiar with the vocal version of this song. I love it. Actually I love jazz. I never went to see a concert live, but I listen to it really often. Actually, when I was in Slovenian there was a concert by Slovenian artists, it was amazing. I don’t know jazz has it’s way of calming me down.

    I know how you feel about the weather. I can’t stand it. At 8:30 when I leave for my internship is already living hell. And imagine travelling to the hospital in a really crowded public transportation. It’s awful. I want the fall to come. I don’t like summer anymore :(

    • Summer is the pits. I am so over it!

      Jazz is relaxing, I agree. It has a mellow feel to its pieces, and they are great songs to unwind to!

  6. I am liking the jazzy theme to this Symphonic Selections! Saxophones are awesome when it comes to jazz music ;). I think as a former musician, I like the first one better! Second song is great as well, but it doesn’t have the instrumental ring to it.

    • From a instrumentalist, I agree that the first one is awesome. The second one is fantastic if you’re into Louis and Ella ^^

  7. I haven’t heard of ‘Summertime’, I think I may have heard a way more modern rendition of it though? But I love Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. And jazz is such a nice genre of music that I also enjoy listening to.

    It might just be my mood but I prefer Parker’s version!

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