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Dick Hyman, Stephanie Nakasian On Riverwalk Jazz This Week

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Jim Cullum Jr. The historic Filoli Estate and Gardens south of San Francisco is the setting for this week’s Riverwalk Jazz broadcast, “Sweet Ballads and Red Hot Pianos." Piano legend Dick Hyman
Dick Hyman
Dick Hyman
b.1927
piano
and jazz vocalist Stephanie Nakasian join The Jim Cullum Jazz Band for an outdoor concert including a set of songs by composer Walter Donaldson.

The program is distributed in the US by Public Radio International, on Sirius/XM satellite radio and can be streamed on-demand from the Riverwalk Jazz website. You can also drop in on a continuous stream of shows at the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound.

From ”My Blue Heaven” to ”You’re Driving Me Crazy” and “Love Me or Leave Me,” Walter Donaldson composed a string of hits that have held enduring appeal for jazz musicians. His songs have been favorites with the lyricists who collaborated with him, including Johnny Mercer
Johnny Mercer
Johnny Mercer
1909 - 1976
composer/conductor
. During a career that spanned three decades, Donaldson wrote hundreds of tunes for stage, screen and singing stars Al Jolson
Al Jolson
1885 - 1950
vocalist
, Eddie Cantor and Ruth Etting
Ruth Etting
b.1897
. He composed the pop hits “My Buddy,” “Makin’ Whoopee,” “My Blue Heaven” and “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm?”

Broadway’s “Sweetheart of Song" Ruth Etting had the initial hit on “Love Me Or Leave Me” in 1928. With a lyric by Donaldson’s frequent collaborator Gus Kahn, it was later recorded by Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
, Bob Crosby
Bob Crosby
b.1913
, Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, Lester Young
Lester Young
Lester Young
1909 - 1959
saxophone
and Mel Torme
Mel Torme
Mel Torme
b.1925
vocalist
. Fats Waller
Fats Waller
Fats Waller
1904 - 1943
piano
recorded a masterful solo piano version on the Bluebird label, also from 1928. Composed in 1927, Walter Donaldson’s “At Sundown” has been recorded by Muggsy Spanier
Muggsy Spanier
1906 - 1967
cornet
, The World’s Greatest Jazz Band, and Artie Shaw
Artie Shaw
Artie Shaw
1910 - 2004
clarinet
.

Donaldson wrote “You’re Driving Me Crazy” in 1930, and later that year Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
recorded an entertaining version of it. Other notable recordings are by Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker
1906 - 1975
vocalist
and Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt
1910 - 1953
guitar
. Like many Walter Donaldson compositions, ”Crazy” remains a jam session favorite among jazz musicians.

Broadcast highlights on Riverwalk Jazz this week include pianist Dick Hyman’s recreation of the piano roll version of “‘Taint No Sin (to Take Off Your Skin and Dance Around in Your Bones)” which he remembers hearing as boy at home. Stephanie Nakasian performs a song made famous by Basie Band blues singer Helen Humes
Helen Humes
Helen Humes
b.1913
vocalist
, “Million Dollar Secret,” and Cullum Band clarinetist Ron Hockett is featured on “The Sheik of Araby.”


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