Saturday, January 10, 2009

All the Things You Are

An amazing dialogue between Pat Metheny & Brad Mehldau, performing at the 2007 San Sebastian Jazz Festival (Spain).

All the Things You Are is a song composed by Jerome Kern to lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It was written in 1939 for the musical Very Warm for May. Recordings by Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw (with vocalist Helen Forrest) earned the song its initial popularity. The song, which has a unique harmonic structure, is a favorite with singers and jazz musicians. The song’s success was surprising, because it was unusual for its time in the way it shifted tonal centers and alternated from major to minor. Kern wrote it to satisfy his own creative urge and felt it was far too complex for popular appeal.

The chorus is 36 measures long (not the standard 32), in an altered AABA form. The second A section is transposed down a fourth (both melody and chords!), and the final A section adds four additional bars. The modulations in this song are unusual and present challenges to a singer or improviser, including a semitone modulation that ends each A section (they start with measure 6 in the first two A sections and measure 9 of the final A section, and a striking use of enharmonic substitution at the turnaround of the B section (last two measures of the B Section), where the G# melody note over a E major chord turns into an A-flat over the F minor 7th of measure 1 of the final A section. The result is a tune that in the space of every chorus manages to include at least one chord built on every note of the Western 12-tone scale. Amazing!

Charlie Parker was quoted as saying this song had his favorite lyrics. He used to call it "YATAG" which is an acronym for the words "you are the angel glow" in the B section.

A classic rendition from Ella Fitzgerald:

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