1937: Gershwin: Let’s Call the Whole Thing off

THURSDAY, November 5, 2020 – 1:59 PM

(I was looking for something different right before a brutal teaching day and could not even get back here again after teaching before getting almost eight hours of sleep. It was fun to hear all these different view of a standard, and from this you understand how universal and popular some standards. I am making no choices except I moved roughly from most contemporary to farther back in time.)

Let’s Call the Whole Thing off

This is one of the most famous standards of all time, and even one line is famous: “You say tomato, and I say tomahto, you say potato and I say potato.” It goes all the way back to 1937. Even for me that’s very old. It is a song by the George and Ira Gershwin.

In no particular order:

Sant Andreu Jazz Band, Alba Armengou & Jon-Eric Kellso

What a nice young group. I don’t know why the trumpet player is so old, but the rrest of these people seem very young. Supposedly they are 20 and younger. You can read about them HERE.

Seamus Blake and Chris Cheek: Reeds Ramble

No words, no vocalists. This is very much a jazz group, sax is very prominent. I enjoyed the sound.

Sam Harris

I don’t know this man or anything about his singing. This was unexpected, because I find his vocal range and energy very impressive. This may be my favorite of all the versions I’ve heard. I find the energy absolutely contagious.

Gunhild Carling

She’s contemporary and Swedish. I don’t know anything else about her. The vibrato is a bit funky, rather “1950” or earlier to me, meaning an older jazz style I recognize but don’t really particularly like.

Harry Connick Jr.

For some time Connick was quite popular, and I believe this was very big around the time of the movie “When Harry Met Sally”. That is from 1989, not exactly from the Fred Flintstone era, but still now about 31 years back. Connick was an unusual phenomenon because he essentially is a reincarnation of older “crooners”, looking back to Sinatra and his generation.

Willie Nelson and Cyndi Lauper

How these two got together in the first place is to me a mystery. Willie Nelson singing Broadway? I just included this because it is so utterly weird.

Mel Tormé  – “The Velvet Fog”

The older he got, the more he really looked like a frog. He was legendary for his scat singing. That’s when you just make up nonsense syllables to sing in a very improvisational jazz style, and he – together with Ella Fitzgerald – pretty much set the standard for this kind of singing. Both could sing vocal riffs you usually associate with wind instruments like sax. To me what is so impressive is that hitting abstract notes vocally is just way harder. That’s what Jacob Collier also does, so the art is being advanced right now. Singing this way takes astonishing skill.

Sarah Vaughan

She was born in 1924. At the time she lived there was still a huge color barrier in the US, but jazz singers were starting to break that barrier down. She had a great voice.

Ella Fitzgerald · Louis Armstrong

The reason you don’t see more likes and views is that so many people have uploaded it. It’s always the same recording though. Armstrong’s voice was so unusual, it just makes me laugh. When I was very young I didn’t think of him as a singer, with that scratchy voice. It was just sort of a weird sound, kind of funny. Today I realize he actually had a great voice. He was unique

THis rather old recording is a great version with two r superstars. Louie was born in 1901, so he was older than my parents and almost as old as my grandparents. Ella was born the same year as my mother, and she is so famous that all you have to do is say “Ella”, and the whole world knows who we are talking about.



4 thoughts on “1937: Gershwin: Let’s Call the Whole Thing off

  1. This is a great oldie brought up to date with a wonderful version by Sam Harris.

    It’s so good to hear the talented young musicians in the Sant Andreu Jazz Band. I loved the energy in their rendition.

    Willie Nelson and Cyndi Lauper? I don’t know about that pairing but there’s no doubt about Ella and Louie. They are fabulous!

  2. I like jazz particularly jazz singing. I particularly liked hearing the Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong duet. Louis Armstrong sounds like he has phlegm in his throat but it’s fun to listen to him sing.

  3. I enjoyed this music thoroughly. I particularly liked hearing the Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong duet. Louis Armstrong sounds like he has phlegm in his throat but it’s fun to listen to him sing.

  4. Louis Armstrong has a unforgettable voice. Everytime I hear one of his songs you immediately know it’s him. The passion in the trumpet and the scratchy yet smooth voice are immediately recognizeable. La vie en rose and this song are real highlights.

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