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  • Writer's picturejim lenz

OLLI Pirate Radio 207

Another Saturday edition. Blame it on the glorious weather. Friday afternoon I sat out in the sun listening to jazz until the sun went down and I think I got cooked a bit. Not sunburned, but just exhausted. Went home and collapsed in bed. Had fun activities much of the Saturday and now here I am at the keyboard. As Hobbs once said to Calvin about summertime, "The days are just packed!"

Welcome to







This is the sort of day that makes it hard for me to actually do things that look like responsible, productive work. Something about these days just fills me with this happy, carefree feeling that blinks in confusion at concepts like "ambition" and "workaholic." There are some songs that capture that feeling pretty well, and I thought I'd start off with one of them.


Spyro Gyra is a jazz fusion band that hails from the great city of Buffalo, New York. It formed there in 1974 and half a century and thirty-six albums later, they're still going. I'd say that's a pretty good run by most folks' standards.


This song is the title track to their second studio album, released in 1979. One review of the album said that it was "too heavily produced and too tightly arranged to be an impressive jazz album." Yeah, I get that. But I still love it for its simple, exuberant joy. That, and Dave Samuels on steel drums and vibraphone. Man, I love that. (Have I mentioned I'm a sucker for vibes?)


Please enjoy Spyro Gyra playing "Morning Dance."




That makes me smile every time I listen to it, and today I don’t see any reason to play music that does anything else. Those of you who have been with me for a while know Eva Cassidy was one of my all-time favorite vocalists, but so many of her songs have a strong strain of melancholy in them. Not this one, though. This is just flat-out fun.


This is a song written by the great Thomas "Fats" Waller back in 1929, and since then it's been recorded by an honor roll of the great jazz vocalists: Fats Waller himself, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong and a lot more. Eva Cassidy recorded it in 1996 at Blues Alley, a DC-area blues and jazz club. I'm going to play a video of that live recording, which ended up on her first album, Live at Blues Alley. It was also the only album released before her death from cancer later that same year. Fortunately, a lot of her performances had been recorded so we do have more of her work than just that one album.


And it's a great one! What repeatedly amazes me is that when you listen to it, it just doesn’t sound like a live album. You'd swear it's a studio album except for some applause at the end of songs. But seeing is believing. This is the actual track from the album, recorded live.


Please enjoy Eva Cassidy singing "Honeysuckle Rose."




So here's one more fun song, also an oldie—a Cole Porter song from 1934, originally performed in the musical Anything Goes.

Again, it's been recorded by just about everyone, but this recent recording is my favorite. It's off the second album of duets of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Love for Sale from 2021. Between the previous album's recording sessions and this one, Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, and his presence was more muted in these sessions, but the emotional chemistry between these two artists very clear. You all know that Bennett passed away two years later, but he kept singing almost to the very end. Hard to top that as an exit.


Please enjoy Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga singing "I Get a Kick out of You."






Now we come to the part of our show dedicated to a featured artists (or theme) of the month, and this month it's The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. And since we're doing fun songs, we're going back to their penchant for drinking songs, although this one has an odd history. Many American folk songs which are listed as "Traditional," (i.e. no composer known, and probably a blend of several songs into one) came to this country from Europe, carried by the immigrant stream. This is indeed one of those traditional American folk songs and also a traditional Irish folk song, but for a change, it appears to have originated in American and immigrated back to Ireland. The American and Irish lyrics are roughly the same, but the melody is different. Either way, it's fun.


It appeared on the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem second album, Come Fill Your Glass With Us, from 1959. It stayed a concert favorite as long as the band performed. Here's a fun live recording of it from 1961, with Pete Seeger sitting on guitar and Bruce Langhorne doing the same on guitar. Please enjoy them playing "The Moonshiner."



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