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It Might As Well Be Spring

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Written: 1945

Music by: Richard Rodgers

Words by: Oscar Hammerstein II

Written for: State Fair
(movie, 1945)

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video before starting another.)

Jane Monheit


"It Might As Well Be Spring"

with Joel Frahm, sax; Kenny Ascher, piano; Ron Carter, bass, Kenny Washington, drums, and Rene Toledo, guitar
at The Rainbow Room,
Rockefeller Center, New York City,
September 23, 2002.

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More Performances of "It Might As Well Be Spring"
in the Cafe Songbook Record/Video Cabinet


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"It Might As Well Be Spring"

Critics Corner || Lyrics Lounge

About the Movie State Fair / Origins of the Song

"It Might As Well Be Spring" on the charts:


Dick Haymes: first charted Nov. 17, 1945, remained on charts for 12 weeks peaking at #5.


Paul Weston: first charted Oct. 27, 1945, remained on charts for 11 weeks peaking at #6.


Sammy Kaye: first charted Dec. 15, 1945, remained on charts for 10 weeks peaking at #4.


Source: Joel Whitburn,
Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American Popular Music
, 198





Richard Rodgers,
Musical Stages: An Autobiography New York: Random House, 1975
(Da Capo paper bound ed., 2002, pictured above).





Other songs written for the movie State Fair currently included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook:

1. That's for Me


For a complete listing of songs used in the movie State Fair, see IMDB soundtrack.






About the Movie and Introduction of the Song

State Fair, 1945, the only score of Rodgers and Hammerstein written originally for the screen stars Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews, Dick Haymes and Vivian Blaine. The songwriting team got involved when producer Darryl F. Zanuck saw Oklahoma on Broadway and got the idea that Rodgers and Hammerstein would be perfect to write words and music for a movie-musical version of State Fair, originally a 1932 novel by Phil Stong which had already been made into a film in 1933, starring Janet Gaynor and Will Rogers. Rodgers notes in his autobiography that he and his partner "were immediately won over" after being given a special screening of the earlier film at the Twentieth Century Fox New York office on Fifty-sixth Street. Rodgers further explains that

We made sure, though, that our contract included one provision. Becacuse of our multiple activities in New York, we had no intention of spending an extended length of time in Hollywood, and we insisted that we be allowed to write the songs in the East. Though they found the request a bit unusual, the studio people agreed; the story, which was set in Iowa, would be filmed in California, while the music and lyrics would be written in Fairfield Connecticut, and Doylestown, Pennsylvania [where Rodgers and Hammerstein, respectively, resided] (Musical Stages, 235-236).

The story opens as the Frakes, an Iowa farm family, get ready for the Iowa State Fair, which takes place every autumn. Margy Frake (Jeanne Crain) the daughter of the family, is perplexed at her lack of satisfaction with her everyday life, a set of feelings more common to spring, a season typically associated with such agitation. It is with this agitation that she departs for the fair setting the plot of the movie in motion -- but before she joins the rest of her family to drive to the fair, she thinks out loud that given these restless, unsettling feelings of hers, "It Might As Well Be Spring."

"It Might As Well Be Spring" from State Fair
Jeanne Crain (dubbed by Louanne Hogan)

Visit the Lyrics Lounge below for further comment on the lyric contained in the clip above .

Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote three memorable songs for State Fair: "It Might as Well Be Spring," "That's for Me" and "It's a Grand Night for Singing." The first two of these are in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook. Despite how grandly memorable, "It's a Grand Night for Singing" gains much of its value from a rousing performance by an ensemble that fills the set with song and dance. It is a theater song par excellence that thrives on the theatrical or Hollywood stage but has not been taken up by many singers for recording, cabaret, or concert--modes of performance that constitute the essence of The Songbook.

Dick Haymes, Vivian Blaine and ensemble perform
"It's a Grand Night For Singing" in State Fair.

Academy Award: "It Might as Well be Spring" won the Academy Award for best song for 1945. Other nominees that year included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook were "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive"; "Aren't You Glad You're You"; and "I Fall in Love Too Easily." (for all the 1945 nominees, see The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Database.)

Web Resources:
State Fair at IMDB, and Amazon.

Critics Corner (This section is currently in preparation.)

Book cover: Alec Wilder, "America's Popular Song"
Alec Wilder, American Popular Song The Great Innovators, 1900-1950, New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.
Critic Alec Wilder is quite fond of "It Might As Well Be Spring," which he calls "a wonderful song . . . unlike any song Rodgers had written to this point," with a Hammerstein lyric that is "truly a treasure of sparkling imagery" (Wilder, p. 219, hardcover Ed.).

Book cover: Philip Furia and Michael Lasser, "America's Songs"

Philip Furia and
Michael Lasser,
America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley, New York: Routledge, 2006.

Philip Furia and Michael Lasser are interested in how both Rodgers and Hammerstein use sounds to support the "emotional development" present in the song. They explain how the short vowels in Hammerstein's lyric, as evidenced in a line like "I'm as restess as a willow in a windstorm, I'm as jumpy as a puppet on a string" correspond to the singer's restlessnes as does Rodgers' "restless, jumpy melody." The critics go on to point out that later in the song, in the bridge, when the singer's mood becomes more contemplative "the song's line becomes longer and more melodic: "I keep wishing I were somewhere wlse, walking down a strange new street."

Furia and lasser also note that Rodgers, tempermental at the best of times, had a history of conflict with Hollywood studio types who thought they knew more about how his songs should be sung and played than he did. They wanted "It Might As Well be Spring" to be performed as a slow ballad when Rodger's initial intention had been for a 'bright, medium tempo." They prevailed with the proviso that if the preview audience didn't go for the slow version the scene would be reshot. The audience loved it and Rodgers graciously admitted he was wrong (Furia and Lasser, p. 202).

book cover: Gerald Mast "Can't Help Singin'"
Gerald Mast. Can't Help Singin' The American Musical on Stage and Screen. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987.

In much the same vein as Furia and Lasser, Gerald Mast astutely recognizes how the versefor "It Might As Well Be Spring" ascends and descends the major scale in formless vocalizing to convey the singer's listlessness" (Mast, p. 170). Mast later goes on to be very specific about how the music, lyric and meaning converge:

The singer's listlessness is mirrored by repetitive musical phrases accompanying soft consonants and vowels: "as restless as a willow in a windstorm," dominated the soft "w"; As busy as a spider spinning daydreams: dominated by the lazy "s." In the next musical phrase, Rodgers deserts his predictable steps to jump up and down the scale in surprising leaps. Hammerstein accompanies the musical jumps with "jumpy" words in both their sounds and meanings: "as jumpy as a puppet on a string" . . . . Hammerstein's words are inseparable from the sounds and feelings of Rodger's music (Mast, p. 207-208).

  Rodgers himself corroborates his intentionality in producing a correspondence between musical sound and meaning when he explains in his autobiography, "I intentionally ended the phrase ["I'm as jumpy as a puppet on a string"] on the uncertain sound of the F natural (on the word 'string') rather than on the more positive F sharp" (Musical Stages, p. 236, hardcover Ed.)

Book cover" William Zinsser, "Easy to Remember"
William Zinsser,
Easy to Remember
The Great American
Songwriters and Their Songs
Jaffrey, New Hampshire:
David R. Godine, 2001.

The above quote from Rodgers confirms a widely known fact that in his collaboration with Hammerstein the words came first, but in his collaboration with Hart, the opposite was generally true. William Zinsser, who says he generally prefers Rodgers and Hart songs to those by Rodgers and Hammerstein explains his reasoning thus: When he wrote with Hammerstein,

His melodies often turned stately ("Some Enchanted Evening," "We Kiss in a Shadow"), or grandiose "(Bali Ha'i," "If I Loved You"), or pretentious ("You'll Never Walk Alone," "Climb Every Mountain"). Partly this was because he was now setting tunes to Hammerstein's lyrics, reversing the order he used with Lorenz Hart. Pre-written lyrics can do that to a composer, suggesting melodies different from the ones he might have created on his own; nothing that Rodgers wrote with Hammerstein reminds me of anything he wrote with Hart. A lyricist's words, however, can also inspire. Hammerstein's lilting lyric for "It Might As Well Be Spring," from State Fair, led Rodgers by the hand to one of his most delicate melodies (Zinsser, pp. 181-182).

Rodgers and Hart
Rodgers and Hart
(c. 1936)






photo of Oscar Hammerstein
Oscar Hammerstein II

Hammerstein and Hart:
An Accidental Ironist and an Intentional one.

There has been no shortage of commentary on the differences between the songs written by Rodgers and Hart and those written by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Hart's lyrics are more likely to be ironic, even bitter, and although often very funny and certainly comic more often than not don't let the listener escape a whiff of the tragic. Hammerstein's lyrics are filled with unalloyed beautiful mornings, the beauties of getting to know other human beings and a general sense of optimism, even if sometimes the optimist is a bit cock-eyed. Two songs that bring the two lyricists together more closely than usual are "Spring Is Here" by Rodgers and Hart and "It Might As Well Be Spring" by Rodgers and Hammerstein. This is not mostly because the primary source of imagery is spring, but because in "It Might As Well Be Spring" Hammerstein ventures into Hart's territory of irony albeit by necessity rather than intention.

Oscar Hammerstein's lyric for "It Might As Well Be Spring" is not only "lilting" as Zinsser notes just above, but is more layered with irony than much of his other work. This irony begins with his use of the subjunctive "might" in the title suggesting a lack of correspondence between the way the singer expects things to be and the way they are playing out. And, indeed, the title is an attempt at an explanation for the confusion that has insinuated itself into the singer's mood and behavior. If it were spring it would be understandable that "the things I used to like / I don't like anymore," / I want a lot of other things / I've never had before," as the singer puzzles in the verse. And furthermore, it is interesting to note, that this irony, which works so well, was not originally planned for the song but became a necessity when Hammerstein discovered, accidentally more or less, that state fairs take place in fall. This turns out to be an inconvenient truth because he can no longer set his poem in spring and easily retain his planned theme -- the confusion that overtakes young people in spring. Hammerstein resolved his problem quite unironically, but brilliantly, by simply having the singer state, given the way she feels, "it might as well be spring." Once he does this he is able to maintain all the ironic feelings Margie Frake is having, feelings that may be curious and disturbing but never cause us to doubt that her problems will work out in a spring-like fashion, even though it's fall.

When Rodgers' first writing partner, Lorenz Hart, wrote about the same season in "Spring is Here," his irony did not come about as a result of an accidental misunderstanding but was intended from the start as a comment on the ironies resident at the center of life, at least of his life. And there is no indication literal or otherwise that they will dissolve into a happy conclusion. The singer in Hammerstein's lyric cannot understand why she feels "as restless as a willow in a windstorm" and "as jumpy as a puppet on a string," emotional states common to "spring fever" when she knows it isn't spring. Hart's character is ions beyond Hammerstein's on the despair meter. Instead of being confused about feelings he would understand and might even like if it were spring, he feels betrayed by the fact that the whole idea of spring as a time when love is in the air is a sham. His verse states: "Now April, May and June / are sadly out of tune. / Life has stuck the pin in the balloon." In the refrainthings get worse as he discovers his own emptiness and writes, sounding a bit like Eliot, "No desire / No ambition leads me" -- though Hart's despair has an identifiable cause, an objective correlative as it were, "Maybe it's because / Nobody needs me." Spring is around with all of its usual attributes, and that should make his "heart go dancing." But it doesn't and all he can surmise is "Maybe it's because / Nobody loves me. / Spring is here, I hear!"

Hammerstein's irony reflects an irony informed by a confusion typical to the innocence of youth, Hart's by a resignation associated with the bitterness of experience.

It may be this difference that is largely responsible for the far greater number of Rodgers and Hart songs that have become standards along with the far greater number of Rodgers and Hammerstein shows that continue to be revived on stage and screen. People in cabaret settings (or alone with their music machines) are far more likely to be tolerant of, even hankering after, truth telling about emotional pain. People who buy tickets for musicals may be up for some jokey irony about life's tough moments but on the whole are paying for some good old-fashioned uplifting resolution. Hart's writing, in general, delivers the former, Hammerstein's the latter.

Lyrics Lounge

Click here to read the lyrics for "It Might As Well Be Spring," as sung by Jeanne Crain
(dubbed by Louanne Hogan) in State Fair.

Jane Monheit (on the Main Stage above) does not sing the verseof the song, but Jeanne Crain/Louanne Hogan (in the movie) does. It is in the verse that Hammerstein gives his character the motivation to think, "It might as well be spring" because she has a set of feelings more commonly associated with that season than with fall, the season during which she is singing; for example, "The things I used to like / I don't like anymore. / I want a lot of other things / I've never had before."

Margy Frake (Jeanne Crain) is engaged to a local farmer who is less romantically inclined than Margy's father's prize boar; in fact, the young farmer himself is a champion bore. By the time Margy completes the refrain, of "It Might As Well Be Spring," it is clear to us and to her that she wants to be really in love "when it isn't even spring": "I keep wishing I were somewhere else, / Walking down a strange new street, / Hearing words that I have never heard / From a man I've yet to meet." How much more perfectly could Hammerstein have foreshadowed what will befall Margy at the fair, where she finds herself on a roller coaster ride with a fancy free journalist played by Dana Andrews.

Amy Asch notes in her introduction to the song in The Complete Lyrics that Hammerstein came up with the idea of writing a song about Margy's predicament by having the story set in spring to coincide with her spring-like feelings but was very distressed when he learned that all state fairs take place in the autumn -- thus not fitting the seasonal correspondence he had in mind. He compensated by making an adjustment: "Then I thought," he told an interviewer in 1956, "well maybe she just feels this way, although it is fall," which led to his theme and title, "It Might As Well Be Spring." Hammerstein went on, "Then I wasn't quite sure about it and I told Dick [Rodgers] the title, and he said, "That's great," and that gave me the courage to go ahead with it (Asch, p. 320). The twist on the season enriches the song significantly by adding a layer of irony and human complexity to what might otherwise have been not much more than a beautiful piece of fluff.

The portion of the lyric heard in the video clip and linked lyrics above includes the verse and the refrain but does not includes a variation on the refrain sung by Margy a little later in the film while she is daydreaming about a new and more exciting life:

I keep wishing I were somewhere else,
Walking down a strange new street,
Hearing words that I have never heard
From a man I've yet to meet.
He would be a kind of handsome combination
Of Ronald Coleman, Charles Boyer, and Bing.

This variation is immediately followed on the soundtrack by the disembodied voices of Coleman, Boyer and Crosby. The first two speak to flatter Margy with pledges of excitement and romance. Bing sings a bit of the actual lyric followed by some characteristic Crosby scat:

And we feel so gay
In a melancholy way
That it might as well be spring,
Boo-boo boo-boo
Ya-da da_dee.

The complete, authoritative lyrics for "It Might As Well Be Spring'" can be found in:

book cover" The Complete Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II"
Amy Asch (Ed.). The Complete Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II. New York: Alfred A. Knoph, 2008.

Click here to read Cafe Songbook lyrics policy.

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("It Might As Well Be Spring" page)


Credits for Videomakers of videos used on this page:

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The Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet:
Selected Recordings of

"It Might As Well Be Spring"

(All Record/Video Cabinet entries below
include a music-video
of this page's featured song.
The year given is when the studio
track was laid down
or when the live performance was given.)

Performer/Recording Index

Doris Day and Les Brown
album: Doris Day Lost Treasures

same track as on the album referenced above


Notes: The album includes seventeen of Day's mid-forties performances with Les Brown and his band, the period before she was a movie star and before she was a first tier pop singer, both of which began three years later when, still singing with the Brown Band, Sammy Cahn recommended her for the lead in Romance on the High Seas, in which she introduced "It's Magic" and kick-started her career in both movies and records.
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1945, and 1956
Dick Haymes

The 1945 Decca recording

The 1956 Capitol recording.


Notes: "In 1955, Capitol Records signed Dick Haymes and attempted to do for him what it had done for Frank Sinatra a few years earlier, resurrect his career. Due to a combination of personal and business problems, Haymes had fallen far from his mid-'40s peak, when he was a major rival to Sinatra among the new crop of solo singers emerging from the big bands. The Capitol sojourn led to 12 recording sessions between December 20, 1955, and April 4, 1957, that produced two LPs, Rain or Shine and Moondreams, and a few singles, only one of which, "Two Different Worlds," managed a brief stay on the charts. The recordings were out of print for decades, but were championed by some critics, making the 1956 two-CD set, compiled by Ken Barnes, a welcome reissue" (from iTunes review).

You can find his 1945 Decca recording (single or or in a collection) at Amazon.
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Sarah Vaughan

Album: Sarah Vaughan in Hi-Fi

same track as on the album referenced above


Notes: "The core of this magnificent cd is the sessions [including "It Might As Well Be Spring"] Sarah had with the stellar group consisting of Miles Davis on trumpet, Tony Scott on clarinet, Benny Green on trombone, Budd Johnson on tenor-sax, Jimmy Jones on piano, either Freddie Green or Mundell Lowe on guitar, Billy Taylor Jr. on bass and J C Heard on drums. . . ." (Amazon Customer reviewer Nikica Gilik).

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Clifford Brown
album: Overnight in Paris

same track as on the album referenced above


Notes: Jazz instrumental of "It Might As Well Be Spring, recorded in Paris Oct. 15, 1953 with Clifford Brown, trumpet; Henri Renaud, piano; Pierre Michelot, bass; Benny Bennett, drums; This is part 1 of a two recording French connection for "It Might As Well Be Spring." Blossom Dearie, just below, sings the song in French. This is appropriate to Hammerstein if for no more solid reason than he expressed his love for Paris in his tribute to the city "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (music by Jerome Kern), written just after Paris fell at the beginning of WW II. "It Might As Well Be Spring," overtly having nothing to do with Paris or anything French -- set in Iowa -- came just as the war ended.
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Blossom Dearie
album: Blossom Dearie

same track as on the album referenced above


Notes: This is Blossom's debut album from 1956, plus a few added tracks, including "Blossom's Blues," recorded in 1959.
Video: A live performance in 1961, in Paris in which Blossom sings "It Might as Well Be Spring" ("C'est le Printemps
") in French (As she does on the album above), followed by ("Plus je t'embrasse"/"Heart of my Heart") -- It's great to see a young Blossom.
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Frank Sinatra
Album: Sinatra and Strings

same track as on the album referenced above


Notes: Sinatra's first album with Don Costa whose lush orchestrations blend perfectly with Frank's deepening baritone, and the heavy emphasis on strings gives the album an operatic feel. (from Amazon customer review). Sinatra also recorded "It Might As Well Be Spring" in 1945 with an Axel Stordahl arrangement that can be found on the CD Frank Sinatra Sings Rodgers and Hammerstein, and in 1964 with a Nelson Riddle arrangement that is on the CD Academy Award Winners.

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Astrud Gilberto, Jao Gilberto
and Stan Getz

album: Getz-Gilberto #2

same track as on the album referenced above


Notes: Getz-Gilberto#2 is the sequal album to the classic Getz-Gilberto album of the previous year (1963) that featured "The Girl from Ipanema." This Bosa Nova styled "It Might As Well Be Srping" was recorded live at Carnegie Hall, New York, on October 9, 1964, with Stan Getz (sax), Joao Gilberto (guitar) and Astrud Gilberto (vocal).
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Mel Torme and George Shearing
albums: An Evening with
George Shearing and Mel Tormé

and George Shearing Duets


Notes: "Just the two gems "A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square" and "It Might As Well Be Spring" make this remarkable evening of Torme' and Shearing worth listing to! It's a fine jazz performance and Brian Torff (on bass) does an excellent job keeping up with these two jazz legends. Mel Torme' and George Shearing are tops" (from Amazon customer reviewer MWillia).

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Nancy LaMott
album: Beautiful Baby

same track as on the album referenced above


Notes: "This album, Nancy LaMott's first, was originally released in 1991 and then reissued in 1996, shortly after her tragic death from uterine cancer. Even at this, the outset of her recording career, she shows all the moves needed to be a top-of-the-list cabaret singer. Not content to simply recite the story of the lyrics, each track is a separate dramatic event filled with just the right emotional intensity to fit the character of the song she is singing. For "It Might as Well Be Spring" there's a feeling of yearning, while "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" starts off cute and ends up on the barroom floor" (from iTunes Reviewicon).
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Barbara Cook
(Wally Harper, conductor)
album: Oscar Winners
The Lyrics Of Oscar Hammerstein II

same track as on the album referenced above


Notes: "One of the reasons that Barbara Cook has been a success in her second career as a concert and nightclub singer, after a first career as a Broadway musical star, is, ironically, that she has so completely reinvented herself. She still sings show music, by and large, but unlike other stage veterans who have moved to the concert hall, she isn't still trying to perform those songs in character, at least, in the characters for which they were written. Rather, she has created (or revealed) her own unique persona, that of a warm, sincere, yet considered figure who renders the songs in a sympathetic, knowing manner" (from iTunes album review).
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Jane Monheit
album: Live at the Rainbow Room


Notes: "Recorded at the famous New York City restaurant on the 65th floor of Thirty Rockefeller Plaza, Live at the Rainbow Room features jazz vocalist Jane Monheit backed by a 31-piece orchestra conducted by Alan Broadbent along with a solid small jazz ensemble featuring, among others, pianist Michael Kanan, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Kenny Washington" (from iTunes album review).
Video: See Cafe Songbook Main Stage above.
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Kate McGarry
album: The Target


Notes: "Kate McGarry is both subtle and expressive on The Target. This 2007 release is not an example of forceful jazz singing; McGarry is not a brassy, belting, R&B-ish type of jazz singer. Not that there is anything wrong with being a brassy, belting, R&B-ish type of jazz singer — that approach has been great for Ernestine Anderson, but it isn't where McGarry is coming from on her introspective performances of "The Meaning of the Blues," "The Lamp Is Low" and other standards. McGarry is someone who thrives on restraint and delicacy. . . " (from iTunes review.)
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Nikki Parrott
album: Dear Blossom


Notes: album recorded Oct. 10-12, Paramus NJ 2016, released on Arbors Records (ARCD 19453) 2017. Album Personel: Nikki Parrott (vocals and bass), Chris Grasso (piano), Chuck Redd (vibes), Lenny Robinson (Drums); special guests: Engelbert Wrobel (clarinet, tenor sax), Vince Cherico (percussion), Warren Vaché (cornet). Parrott gives her accompanists a long break that features Chuck Redd on vibes and Chris Grasso on piano.
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