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Great American Songbook

Around the time The King’s Singers was just starting up, one of the most productive periods of song-writing in history was coming to a close in America. Starting with composers such as Gershwin, Kern, Berlin and Porter in the early 1920s, and continuing through to the early 1960s, a body of work was slowly built up that unofficially gained the title “The Great American Songbook.” Many of the songs were originally written for musicals but stand proudly on their own merits, such is the quality of the melody writing and wittiness of the text.

With seventeen brand new arrangements written specifically for The King’s Singers by British composer and arranger Alexander L’Estrange, the group share the music of this unique period through a cappella and orchestral touring around the world.   In addition to live performances, a double CD release of the same music has been released on the record label Signum Classics.

CD1 – A cappella
The best is yet to come – Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered – Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart
Let’s misbehave – Cole Porter
Night and day – Cole Porter
Cry me a river – Arthur Hamilton
I’ve got the world on a string – Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler
When I fall in love – Victor Young, Edward Heyman
It’s de-lovely – Cole Porter
Beyond the sea – Charles Trenet, Jack Lawrence
Cheek to cheek – Irving Berlin
Begin the beguine – Cole Porter
At last – Mack Gordon, Harry Warren
I’ve got you under my skin – Cole Porter
The lady is a tramp – Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart
My funny valentine – Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart
I won’t dance – Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh
Every time we say goodbye – Cole Porter

CD2 – Orchestral
Let’s misbehave – Cole Porter
Begin the beguine – Cole Porter
At last – Mack Gordon, Harry Warren
It’s de-lovely – Cole Porter
The lady is a tramp – Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart
My funny valentine – Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart
I’ve got the world on a string – Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler
Ev’ry time we say goodbye – Cole Porter

Background Information
In the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s, the emergence of the radio as the common form of in-home entertainment and the growth of the recording industry allowed the big bands of the day to swing right into people’s living rooms, and popular music was never the same again. The influence of jazz was also strongly felt on the Broadway stage, which was just evolving in New York’s “Melting Pot.” Combining elements of Vaudeville and the Yiddish theatre with the popular jazz rhythms, chords and orchestrations heard on the radio, musical plays were transformed into “the Broadway musical.” This became possibly the most universally popular form of live musical entertainment the world has ever known, and it is the source of many of the greatest popular songs ever written. Classic melodies by such composers as George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Richard Rogers, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter, and later on Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Cy Coleman, among many others, were introduced on Broadway and continue to be much loved around the world. With the rapid growth of the motion picture industry in the 1930s and ’40s, many of these composers headed west to Hollywood, where their musicals were made into movies and where they composed music especially for the screen, creating a new genre which has also yielded a wealth of American popular songs. Over the Rainbow and other classic tunes from this era have stood the test of time, with countless performances and recordings over the next half-century confirming their greatness. Recent terminology has grouped these songs together as “The Great American Songbook”, and the craftsmanship of the melodies, harmonies and lyrics are indeed the standard by which all other popular songs should be measured.

 
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