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You Stepped Out of a Dream (1940)

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Origin and Chart Information
“...this piece takes unusual twists and turns that seem to deliberately avoid settling on any one key for any length of time.”

- K. J. McElrath

Rank 96
Music Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics Gus Kahn

The spectacular Ziegfeld Girl was one of the biggest film hits of 1941. In it Tony Martin introduced the audience to “You Stepped out of a Dream.” As a recording, the song was a modest hit for three big bands: Glenn Miller and His Orchestra with vocals by Ray Eberle and the Modernaires; Guy Lombardo and His Orchestra with Guy’s brother Carmen Lombardo singing;, and Kay Kyser and His Orchestra with vocalist Harry Babbitt. Kyser’s rendition enjoyed a brief time on the pop charts, rising to number 22. The Four Freshmen would record another popular version in 1955, available on the CD The Four Freshmen and 5 Trombones/4 Freshmen and 5 Trumpets.


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

Although filled with opulence and glamour, Ziegfeld Girl was filmed in black and white. The soap opera plot, characteristic of many of the musicals of the era, was little more than an excuse for song and dance numbers, which were, in this case, directed by Busby Berkeley with an eye towards the Ziegfeld style. The film focuses on the personal lives of three chorus girls, played by Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, and Lana Turner, as Florenz Ziegfeld grooms them for stardom. The all-star cast also included James Stewart, Tony Martin, Jackie Cooper, Eve Arden, and Edward Everett Horton.


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More information on this tune...

Robert Gottlieb, Robert Kimball
Reading Lyrics
Hardcover: 736 pages

(This book includes a short biography of Gus Kahn and a dozen pages of his lyrics, including those for “You Stepped Out of a Dream.”)
See the Reading and Research links on this page for additional references.

- Jeremy Wilson

Recommendations for This Tune
Click on any CD for more details at Amazon.com
McCoy Tyner
Fly With the Wind
1992 Original Jazz Classics 699
Original recording 1976
On this album, pianist Tyner was given the opportunity to write for a larger ensemble with flute, piccolo, oboe, harp and a string section. Thanks to Tyner’s writing, the combination works remarkably well and shows his unwillingness to rest on his laurels. The ensemble’s version of “You Stepped Out Of A Dream” expertly juxtaposes the lush orchestration with the heavy, intense rhythm section playing of Tyner, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Billy Cobham and Tyner and flutist Hubert Laws take energized solo turns.
Max Roach
Deeds, Not Words
1991 Original Jazz Classics 304
Original recording 1958
Drummer and bandleader Roach is heard here at an interesting and important transitional point along his evolution from straight-ahead hard bop to more cutting edge modern music. His piano-less quintet features a front line of Booker Little on trumpet, George Coleman on tenor saxophone and Ray Draper on tuba, all of whom provide exciting solos. The performance here transitions unexpectedly between a relaxed tempo with a Latin feel and a swing feel at a blazing tempo.

- Noah Baerman

Dexter Gordon
A Swingin' Affair
1990, Blue Note 84133
Original recording, 1962
The saxophonist smolders on this track. Gordon's phrasing is impeccable and highly evocative of the sentiment of the song.
Sarah Vaughan
The Roulette Years
1991 Blue Note Records 94983
Vaughan swings gently and confidently on this medium-tempo performance with a medium-sized ensemble featuring Harry “Sweets” Edison on trumpet and bandleader Jimmy Jones on piano.
Sonny Rollins
Vol. 2
1999 Blue Note 97809
Original recording 1957
Rollins has been described as at his very best on this particular track. His saxophone is in good company here with Art Blakey at the drum kit and Horace Silver on the piano.
Stefon Harris
Black Action Figure
1999, Blue Note

The vibraphonist gives the standard such fresh vitality that it sounds like a brand new composition.
George Cables
Quiet Fire
1995, Steeplechase

It feels as if you’re headed St. Thomas way as pianist Cables sets the rhythmic pace. It’s quite an excursion, with Ron McClure on bass and Billy Hart on drums.
Ron Eschete
A Closer Look
1994, Concord Jazz 4607

“Playing fingerstyle solo guitar is a cross between living on the edge and sheer terror,” says the seven-string guitarist in the liner notes. Here he gives “You Stepped Out of a Dream” a bossa nova turn.
Chris Connor
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
1999, Collectables Jazz Classics
Original recording, 1956
In contrast to the Four Freshmen’s upbeat 1955 rendition, Connor reads “You Stepped Out of a Dream” as a purely romantic song, backed here by full orchestra.

- Ben Maycock

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