Stories of Standards

Each week on First Take with Chavis and Lando, Lando's "Stories of Standards" segment examines a jazz standard or tune from the Great American Songbook. 

Lando delves into the history behind each tune and plays different versions of the week's featured composition all week long! 

Browse the articles below to broaden your knowledge of America's greatest music.

Harold Arlen's "Stormy Weather"

Dec 8, 2014

A 1933 song written by Harold Alen with lyrics by Ted Koehler, “Stormy Weather” was first performed at Harlem's Cotton Club by Ethel Waters. This recording was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Library of Congress honored the song by adding it to the National Recording Registry in 2004.

In 1933, this composition was also recorded by Frances Langford as Elisabeth Welch belted it out in London.

"Now's The Time" came out of what was marketed by Savoy label as the "greatest Jazz session ever" - led by Charlie Parker ("Bird") with Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis on trumpet, Curly Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums. The date was November 26, 1945.

An influential jazz soloist and leader in the development of bebop, Parker was known for his ability to  combine jazz with other musical genres, including blues, Latin, and classical.  Parker based "Now's The Time"  on conventional twelve-bar blues changes.

Written by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, "My Favorite Things" is originally from the duo's 1959 musical The Sound of Music

Over the years, the song evolved from a popular show tune to a well-loved Christmas song due to its lyrical winter imagery. 

"My Favorite Things" has appreared on a variety of artists' Christmas albums, including Barbra Streisand, Jack Jones, and Mary J. Blige.

A swing-era jazz standard by Jelly Roll Morton, "King Porter Stomp" is considered an important development in jazz.

Morton first wrote the song - named after his friend and fellow pianist Porter King - in 1905, but waited until 1923 to initially record the tune as a piano solo. A year later he filed a copyright on the song and recorded a duet version with Joe "King" Oliver on cornet.

A jazz standard composed by Vernon Duke in 1934 for the Broadway musical Thumbs Up! - which opened on December 27, 1934 - "Autumn in New York" was originally performed by J. Harold Murray.

Over the years, musicians and singers have recorded many versions of the song.