The Kay Swift Songbook
  • Esaie Cid
    Esaie Cid
  • Kay Swift
    Kay Swift

Esaie Cid

The Kay Swift Songbook

Swing Alley

Personnel:
Esaie Cid (as), Jerry Edwards (tb), Gilles Réa (g), Samuel Hubert (b), Mourad Benhammou (d), Kay Swift (compositions)

Reference: SA 039

Bar code: 8427328450393

Best known in musical theater circles for her decade-long romance with George Gershwin, Kay Swift’s own musical talent was considerable and her contributions to American music of the 20th century are significant.

Katharine Faulkner Swift (1897-1994) was trained as a classical composer and pianist. Though she continued to write chamber music through her long life, the main direction of her composing shifted to popular music at the suggestion of George Gershwin, with whom she became romantically involved in 1925, though she was already the mother of three children and had married banker James Paul Warburg in 1918 (they divorced in 1935). Gershwin called her Kay and suggested that for her song-writing she use her maiden name; Kay Swift became the first woman to write the score to a hit Broadway musical, the 1930 show Fine and Dandy.

Her three most enduring songs are “Fine and Dandy,” “Can’t We Be Friends?,” and “Can This Be Love?” This album presents a selection of her well-known, obscure, and unpublished songs written between 1928 and 1950.
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FUNNY WHAT A TUNE CAN DO TO YOU
by Katharine Weber (Trustee of The Kay Swift Trust)

Kay Swift loved many things in her long life —she was marvelously empathic, saw the best in everyone, and she expected life to be full of joy and happy moments. The two things she disliked most in the world were predictability and dwelling on the past instead of savoring the present moment. In her music, as well as in her life, my grandmother always celebrated the fresh, the surprising, the unexpected skips and leaps and blue notes. In these eleven numbers, Esaie Cid and his Quintet honor and celebrate Kay Swift’s music, making it new. She would have loved these fresh interpretations of her well-known standards as much as she would have enjoyed the inventive embrace of her obscure and unknown songs.

From beginning to end, from dynamic to introspective to blue, these five musicians inhabit and discover the music of Kay Swift in a joyful collaboration with each other and with her spirit —not looking backwards to the past, but sharing her talent for joy, by revealing her music in this vibrant and exuberant celebration.



01. Once You Find Your Guy (Kay Swift) 5:11
02. When You Hear This Music (Kay Swift) 5:39
03. Nobody Breaks My Heart (Kay Swift) 4:44
04. Fine & Dandy (Kay Swift) 4:38
05. One Last Look (Kay Swift) 5:28
06. This Be Love? (Kay Swift) 5:11
07. Swifin’ (Theme from “I’ll Hit a New High”) (Kay Swift) 4:35
08. Can’t We Be Friends? (Kay Swift) 4:26
09. Whistling in the Dark (Kay Swift) 6:07
10. Let’s Go Eat Worms in the Garden (Kay Swift) 8:15
11. Sagebrush Lullaby (Kay Swift) 4:48

Album details

All arrangements by Esaie Cid

Personnel:
Esaie Cid (alto sax), Jerry Edwards (trombone), Gilles Réa (guitar), Samuel Hubert (bass), Mourad Benhammou (drums).
Recorded at Studio Midilive, Villetaneuse, France, May 14, 2018

Sound engineer:Hugo Bracchi
Mixed & mastered by Gilles Réa
Cover photo: Patrick Martineau
Photos at the recording studio by G. Debainson
Kay Swift photos courtesy of Katharine and Nicholas Weber

Produced by Esaie Cid
Executive producer: Jordi Pujol
Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas S.L.

Press reviews



"Anybody heard of Kay Swift? Me neither but apparently she was quite big back in the 30s, chiefly for her romance with George Gershwin although she was also the first woman to write a score for a Broadway musical – Fine And Dandy, in 1930.

Best known of the 11 titles here will be Can’t We Be Friends, which did become a standard and was even recorded together by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Many of the other selections will likely be obscure to most people but the Esaie Cid Quintet does a good job in presenting them, in bop mode for the most part. One Last Look, however, is a slow ballad that finds the altoist leader in rhapsodic mood with sultry trombone contributions from Jerry Edwards. It’s an attractive melody and Cid makes the most of it with a smooth, slowly twisting and turning alto solo.

Guitarist Rea is the only chordal member of the rhythm section but he also makes himself quite prominent as a soloist. Can This Be Love is at lightning tempo and one of the real boppish pieces on offer. Cid’s skilled and inventive solo never wavers for a second even at an impossible tempo. Swiftin,’ another show tune, has a blues feel about it, particularly from Rea’s downhome guitar solo. Cid’s alto shines again on this one too and, not to be outdone, Edwards turns in a shapely trombone segment.

Cid’s arrangement of Can’t We Be Friends, as with all of these songs, is distinctive and lends itself well to a jazz interpretation. Taken at a brisk tempo it features strong all round solo work from the horns and Rea as the rhythm section provide a brisk backing. The unlikely titled Let’s Go Eat Worms In The Garden turns out to be a slow ballad with gently whimsical alto and blues-based guitar.

Most of these compositions show Ms Swift to have been a gifted composer of show tunes which makes me wonder why she is almost forgotten today. It is not as though she lacked friends in high places! 

The Cid band are a tightly knit unit with good soloists, not least the leader himself and the music, once you become acquainted with it, is attractive and offers clean, original jazz performances."

Derek Ansell (September 21)
https://jazzjournal.co.uk
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"ersonnalité méconnue, la compositrice Katherine Faulkner Swift, alias Kay Swift, (1897-1994), a laissé un corpus de mélodies populaires (notamment quelques grands succès comme «Can’t We Be Friends?» ou «Fine and Dandy» dont on ignore souvent qu’elle en est l’auteur) et desquelles se sont emparés les jazzmen. Figure de la société artistique new-yorkaise de l’entre-deux-guerres, Kay Swift, née à New York, est la fille d’un critique musical et a reçu une solide formation classique dans l'institution qui deviendra la Juilliard School. Pianiste professionnelle, grande admiratrice d’Irving Berlin, elle épouse en 1918 un riche banquier, James Paul Warburg, poète à ses heures, qui écrit des paroles sur ses musiques (sous le nom de Paul James). Ils ont trois enfants nés entre 1919 et 1924. Un tournant dans sa vie sentimentale et artistique s’opère en 1925 quand elle rencontre George Gershwin, d’un an son cadet. Les deux amants s’entraident et se soutiennent mutuellement dans leurs travaux respectifs (c’est Gershwin qui lui trouve son pseudonyme) et deviennent un couple quasi officiel avec l’accord tacite du mari résigné. En 1930, Kay est la première femme à composer entièrement une comédie musicale: Fine and Dandy. Elle divorce en 1935, mais George Gershwin décède seulement deux ans plus tard. Elle travaille alors avec son frère Ira à compléter et arranger des partitions de George non encore publiées.

Elle se retire ensuite dans un ranch, dans l’Oregon, avec son nouveau mari, un cow-boy qui pratique le rodéo. Elle continue cependant de composer et publie même en 1943 un livre autobiographique sur sa nouvelle vie, lequel est adapté dans un film (Mon cow-boy adoré, George Marshall, 1950) dont elle signe la musique. Elle consacre la fin de son existence à transcrire, annoter et jouer l’œuvre de George Gershwin.Pour son deuxième album sur le label Swing Alley (Fresh Sound Records), Esaie Cid fait une nouvelle fois montre de son approche savante et originale du répertoire en rendant cet hommage mérité à Kay Swift. Auteur de l’ensemble des arrangements à la coloration bop, l’altiste interprète ici des compositions célèbres ou obscures, présentées en détail dans le livret, où figure également un court texte d’introduction de la petite-fille de Kay Swift, l’écrivain Katharine Weber. Il faut dire que lorsqu’Esaie Cid a commencé à s’intéresser à la compositrice –et avant même d’imaginer lui dédier un album–, il a pris contact avec le Kay Swift Memorial Trust dirigé par Katharine Weber, laquelle lui a fourni des informations et lui a notamment permis d’avoir connaissance de la partition de «When You Hear This Music», écrite au milieu des années 1950, pour une comédie musicale qui fut un échec et sombra rapidement dans l’oubli. On doit également à la collaboration bienveillante de Katharine Weber l’iconographie du livret, dont un beau portrait de Kay Swift pris par George Gershwin en 1935.

A la profondeur de la démarche correspond un album très abouti et superbement joué. Les complices habituels d’Esaie Cid sont de nouveau de la partie: Gilles Réa, Samuel Hubert et Mourad Benhammou, tous d’une grande subtilité; ils se trouvent renforcés par l'un des plus solides représentants du trombone sur la scène parisienne, l’incontournable Jerry Edwards, capable de s’adapter à tous les répertoires et dont chaque solo est ici un régal. Les qualités de l’orchestre se manifestent d’ailleurs dès le premier titre, «Once You Find Your Guy» (écrit pour Mon cow-boy adoré) dont le thème est d’abord joliment exposé par Gilles Réa. La finesse et le beau son d’Esaie Cid s’apprécient particulièrement sur «When You Hear This Music» ou sur «One Last Look» en duo avec le trombone. Plus rythmé, «Nobody Breaks My Heart» met d’avantage en avant le batteur, tandis que «Fine and Dandy» (un sommet d’élégance!) est introduit et porté par Samuel Hubert. Enfin, le quintet donne une intéressante version de «Can’t We Be Friends?» magnifiquement enluminé par le leader qui confirme sa capacité à tirer du patrimoine une matière aussi belle que vivante.

Loin d’avoir épuisé son sujet, Esaie Cid pourrait prochainement nous offrir un second volume de ce Kay Swift Songbook. En attendant, voilà un formidable quintet qui aurait sa place dans les plus grands festivals. On peut toujours rêver."

—Jérôme Partage © Jazz Hot 2019

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10,95 €  (tax incl.)

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