Writings about Music
Cole, Louis, Frank and Lee
Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong
Just One of Those Things by Cole Porter is a prime example of how jazz standards are the ragas of jazz, these being the improvisational focus of the Swing and Modern eras together with blues forms. Like ragas, jazz standards possess design and content genius, affording infinite extemporaneous latitude only limited by the imagination and skill of practitioners.
First off, we have Louis Armstrong, who I would have to say is my favorite jazz vocalist together with Frank Sinatra even though his focus was trumpet.
Next we have Frank Sinatra who made this song more famous than anyone else, recording it a number of times in various settings.
Finally, we have Lee Konitz and Red Mitchell in breathtaking duo form. Lee idolized both Louis and Frank, and was likely thinking of Sinatra's versions while recording this fabulously original vision of the classic song. Pretty cool having this track played when I was featured for three hours on WKCR FM in NYC last year discussing and playing my music in the context of important influences, including Lee and Jackie McLean this time.
What all these versions have in common is proving the truth of my opening statement, how the genius of jazz standards, similar to ragas, allows for galaxies of possible variation.
More so, speaking to the individual artists here, they share the ability to impart extraordinary intimacy through music, all inhibitions dissolved for their love of positive creativity, their gifts amounting to blessings for the world to imbibe.
- Michael Robinson, September 2020, Los Angeles
© 2020 Michael Robinson All rights reserved
Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).