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!