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'S Wonderful! (1927)

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Origin and Chart Information
典he appeal to jazz musicians is not the lyrics … so much as the repeated-note melody of the bridge combined with the riff-like melody in the A section.

- C. Andre Barbera

Rank 98
Music George Gershwin
Lyrics Ira Gershwin

The musical comedy Funny Face opened to rave reviews on November 22, 1927. That night Adele Astaire and Allen Kearns would introduce 湯S Wonderful! a song that would immediately bewitch the Alvin Theater audience.


More on Adele Astaire at JazzBiographies.com

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Funny Face starred comedian Victor Moore and the brother and sister team of Fred and Adele Astaire. Originally titled Smarty, the musical was overhauled after a disappointing opening at Philadelphia痴 Shubert Theatre. The new title was Fred Astaire痴 affectionate nickname for his sister.

With music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin and a book written by Fred Thompson and Paul Gerard Smith, the revamped musical would go on to enjoy a successful run of 244 performances. Included in the original score along with 鉄淡onderful! were hits such as 擢unny Face, 鏑et痴 Kiss and Make Up, 滴e Loves and She Loves, and 溺y One and Only (What Am I Gonna Do?)


More on George Gershwin at JazzBiographies.com

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Immensely popular from the outset, 湯S Wonderful! hit the pop charts twice in 1928. Its first appearance of the year was courtesy of Frank Crumit who took it to fifth place that January. The song struck success again in March when an Ipana Troubadors recording reached twelfth place.


Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

The Astaire siblings, on the other hand, were not to share in the same good fortune enjoyed by 鉄淡onderful. While vacationing in the summer of 1928 Fred was a passenger in a serious automobile accident, and Adele was badly burned in a boating accident, requiring weeks to recuperate in hospital. Despite the setbacks they were both in London that fall for another 263 performances of Funny Face.

The 1957 Paramount film Funny Face is generally well-reviewed and was based on an unproduced play named Wedding Day and also starred Fred Astaire, this time with Audrey Hepburn. The songs were mostly Gershwin, four of which were in the original show.

More information on this tune...

Philip Furia
The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Paperback: 336 pages

(Furia analyzes the lyric.)

Alec Wilder
American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Hardcover: 576 pages

(Wilder analyzes the music.)

- Jeremy Wilson

Recommendations for This Tune
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Stan Getz
The Complete Roost Recordings
Blue Note Records 59622
Original recording 1950
The immensely influential saxophonist Getz is heard here at the beginning of his prolific career as a bandleader. His own playing is fabulous, as is that of the pianist he had recently discovered, Horace Silver.
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire's Finest Hour
2003 Verve 52402
Original recording 1952
In a jazz setting, Astaire revisits this song with which he is so closely associated. Accompanying him on this classic performance are Oscar Peterson痴 group, augmented by Charlie Shavers on trumpet and Flip Phillips on tenor saxophone.

- Noah Baerman

Helen Merrill/Clifford Brown
Helen Merrill with Clifford Brown
Polygram Records 14643
Original recording 1954
Vocalist Merrill was in top form when she collaborated with trumpet genius Clifford Brown and arranger Quincy Jones. This swinging, up-tempo romp on 湯S Wonderful is a highlight of that collaboration.
Art Tatum
The Tatum Group Masterpieces, Vol. 1
Original recording 1954
Pianist Tatum is on fire here, as are his cohorts, alto saxophonist Benny Carter and drummer Louis Bellson.
Sonny Stitt
Original Jazz Classics 060-2
Original recording 1952
Saxophone master Stitt delivers a straight-ahead, solid offering, full of robust phrasing and playful asides. Though the sound quality is not pristine the bebop shines through.
George Van Eps
Mellow Guitar
1999, Euphoria Records
Original recording, 1956
When Van Eps' debut album was released it was a sensation among jazz fans at a time when great jazz filled the airwaves. The master seven-string guitarist is not only an extraordinary technician but a creative genius, and the orchestral backing, used subtly and occasionally, is masterful. Great selections throughout.
Eddie Harris
The In Sound/Mean Greens
1993 Atlantic 71515
Original recording 1965
The brilliant, underrated saxophonist Harris plays 湯S Wonderful with a propulsive Latin feeling, interacting with the buoyant rhythm section of pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Billy Higgins.
Diana Krall
The Look of Love
2001 Verve 314549846
Original recording 2001
The Canadian pianist and torch singer gives the song her trademark smolder. Her husky voice and eloquent playing draw listeners in and hold them entranced.
John Pizzarelli
All of Me
1992, Novus 63129

This album hails from the early days of the prolific guitarist and singer. Pizzarelli痴 version of 鉄淡onderful swings with the best of them.
Red Garland
1991, Original Jazz Classics 428
Original recording, 1958
Pianist Garland, bass player Paul Chambers, and drummer Arthur Taylor are joined by conga player Ray Barretto in a version that stands out for its exceptional solos.

- Ben Maycock

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