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Take Two

Polka Dots And Moonbeams

 

 

 

Take Two

 

 

Polka Dots And Moonbeams has always struck me as having one of those themes the novice can play with one hand on the piano - rather like Heart And Soul that Sam Braysher wrote about last month. Perhaps the danger is that doing so can over-familiarise the tune, and that's a shame, because both songs are wide open to creative interpretation.

Polka Dots And Moonbeams with music by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Johnny Burke was first publiched in 1940 and was Frank Sinatra's first hit record with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Since then, like all 'standards', it has been recorded many times by countless musicians from Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Lester Young to Bob Dylan and John Denver.

 

 

 

A country dance was being held in a garden
I felt a bump and heard an "Oh, beg your pardon"
Suddenly I saw polka dots and moonbeams
All around a pug-nosed dream

 

Wikipedia gives us a couple of 'by the way' facts: 'The song has a notable lyric: a man discovers love at a country dance by accidentally bumping into a woman who has a pug nose. The others at the dance are looking strange at this, since her nose makes her someone they wouldn't think romantically about. But he has the last laugh: she becomes the love of his life, and he settles down with her.' and 'During the song's first year, a fashion designer even created a "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" fabric print as part of a series of prints inspired by popular music.'Dancing In The Moonlight

 

 

 

The music started and was I the perplexed one
I held my breath and said "May I have the next one?"
In my frightened arms, polka dots and moonbeams
Sparkled on a pug-nosed dream

 

 

 

 

Our two 'takes' on this 1940s tune are much more recent, one from 2020 and one from 2018. The first has a fine pianist I recently came across and have included before, Emmet Cohen. On this occasion however a young singer, Bryan Eng, sits in with Emmet's trio. I like this video for the happy, relaxed atmosphere of the occasion, for Bryan's interpretation of the song and for Emmet's solo.

 

Bryan Eng

 

At just 22 years old, Bryan Eng is an award winning American musician and actor from Maryland - you can read more about him here. His debut album 20 was released at the end of 2019.

 

Listen to Polka Dots And Moonbeams with Bryan Eng and the Emmet Cohen Trio.

 

 

 

 

There were questions in the eyes of other dancers
As we floated over the floor
There were questions but my heart knew all the answers
And perhaps a few things more

 

 

Our second take is an instrumental version of Polka Dots And Moonbeams featuring trombonist Carol Jarvis. A graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music, Carol is one of the most in-demand session musicians in the UK. She has been a trombone professor at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music for over fourteen years, has given masterclasses throughout the world, is a former President of the British Trombone Society and was appointed President of the International Trombone Festival in 2017. There is more about her here.

 

In this video from 2018 Carol is in the company of Bulgarian musicians Teodor Petkov (piano), Vasil Hadjigrudev (double bass), Stefan Kojuharov (drums) and sitting quietly just out of shot, the "Zara strings" quartet:

 

 

 

 

Now in a cottage built of lilacs and laughter
I know the meaning of the words "Ever after"
And I'll always see polka dots and moonbeams
When I kiss the pug-nosed dream

 

Carol Jarvis

 

 

 

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