Written by George Gershwin – Music
DuBose Heyward – Lyrics
There was no other like Billy Stewart. This man blew this 1935 written song completely apart with his rendition in 1966. Talk about explosive, man a total understatement.
Many versions of this song early on from the opera it was written for “Porgy & Bess” have been done. Gershwin’s composition was actually written as an Aria. According to Gershwin’s biography it was stated that there had been some 2,600 versions of this Jazz standard. Billie Holiday was the first to hit the US pop charts, reaching # 12. Over the years Ella Fitzgerald, Satchmo, Sam Cooke, Gene Vincent, Miles Davis among countless others recorded and did different arrangements on the song.
Janis Joplin ( my second favorite rendition ) sang her raw raspy heart out that seemed to come from the depths almost like a pain screaming to get out. Her vocal expression almost made you cry and feel that pain along with the words she cried.
But nobody and I mean NOBODY ever had the commercial success with ” Summertime ” like Billy Stewart. And never has there been anybody that could match his unique precision of scat singing and style. And “Bunky Green’s” solo on Alto Sax gave this recording an even more flavorful mix to the Jazz.
The album it came from was called “Unbelievable” now how befitting was that!
And Unbelievable it was and still couldn’t describe the feeling you get when you hear it. Stewart’s Summertime was about as exciting as it came. Done like nobody else before or after him.
This man’s soul is in two places. Heaven and here on this earth still being enjoyed to the max. When I hear this over an oldies station, I cannot turn up the volume loud enough. I don’t think they’ve ever created enough decibels in which to set into our musical realm of ecstasy.
But Stewart definitely had already reached the maximum level that no one in my opinion will ever surpass.
Stewart had previous hits in 1965 with two of his owns songs he had written “I Do Love You” ( off the Album’s same name ) and “Sitting in the Park”, but nothing would compare to his success the following year with “Summertime”.
A Hot Sizzling #10 and it was flawless.
Chess Studio Musicians for Album
Billy Stewart (vocals)
Gerald Sims, Bryce Roberson, Pete Cosey, Bo Diddley (guitar)
George Patterson, Bunky Green ( Solo on Summertime ) (alto saxophone)
Bob Neely, Johnny Board (tenor saxophone)
Rubin Cooper (baritone saxophone)
Burgess Gardner, John Howell, Cleo Griffin, Paul Serrano, Arthur Hoyle (trumpet)
John Avant, Morris Ellis, Julian Priester (trombone)
Leonard Caston, Sonny Thompson (piano)
Charles Stepney (vibraphone)
Louis Satterfield (electric bass)
Maurice White (drums)
Jerome Green (maracas)