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Kris Berg chart: arrangement to showcase the lead trombone and trombone section.
In his New York Times review of Jackie Cain and Roy Kral singing and playing at The Village Vanguard in New York in 1962, John S. Wilson writes,
[Cain and Kral]
have been singing both the songs and the praises of Tommy Wolf with such persistence that Mr. Wolf's star has risen along with their own.
One of Mr. Wolf's songs, "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," which Mr. Kral and Miss Cain began using eight years ago, has recently become one of the more favored staples in supper club circles. When Mr. Kral introduces other songs by Mr. Wolf now -- "Season in the Sun," "You Smell So Good," "Kill 'Em with Kindness" -- he advises his audiences that "they'll be quite famous in at least ten years" (New York Times, Feb. 10, 1962).
Ted Gioia suggests that Tommy Wolf is such a little known jazz composer that most people hearing his name associated with his more well known songs such as "Ballad of the Sad Young Men" and "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" might think they had encountered musical works written by one of his more famous literary namesakes (Thomas Wolfe who wrote Look Homeward Angel in the Thirties and Tom Wolfe who penned Bonfire of the Vanities in the Eighties. But Gioia writes that although the composer Tommy Wolf never enjoyed the fame that the other "Wolfes" (with an "e") did, he was "an exceptional songwriter, one of the most talented of his generation."
Gioia points out that although his compositions are not well known to the general public they are "prized by musicians for their poetry and sophistication."
Edited and with an Introduction by Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball, New York: Pantheon Books, 2000.
Tommy Wolf was a pianist, composer, arranger, and musical director who met Fran Landesman while she was sitting in the bar of the Crystal Palace, a night club in St. Louis, while he was on the bandstand playing. This experience inspired her to begin writing song lyrics and in 1952 Wolf began setting her lyrics to music. More Landesman–Wolf collaborations followed including the melodies for the songs for the Broadway musical The Nervous Set.
Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball comment on the team of Wolf and Landesman writing that they produced a series of songs including the anthemic "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" and Ballad of the Sad Young Men" that Wolf would later refer to as "American Lieder," songs that "took on even more resonance in the age of AIDS" (p. 581).
"As fans of musical theater, we're used to offbeat projects, but this long-forgotten show takes the cake--and it's completely entrancing. The opening number alone makes nasty fun of the then-popular beatniks and is immediately followed by "New York," a list song enumerating all the awful things about the city. Rarely has so much bile been spilled on the New York stage--but perhaps that's because the show originated in St. Louis. Tommy Wolf's finger-snapping score and Fran Landesman's biting lyrics are very compelling, especially because it's hard to tell when they're serious and when they're drily sarcastic. The energetic cast, which includes Larry Hagman (best known as JR in Dallas), is backed by a jazz quartet, and the result often sounds strangely contemporary. And then you have some numbers, such as "Night People," that are almost Sondheimian. What a strange, wonderful little show this is." --Elisabeth Vincentelli (Amazon editorial review)
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Credits for Videomakers of videos used on this page:
Kenny Burrell, "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most": Ken James
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Master List of Great American Songbook Songwriters
Names of songwriters who have written at least one song included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook are listed below.
Names of songwriters with two or more song credits in the catalog (with rare exceptions) are linked to their own Cafe Songbook pages, e.g. Fields, Dorothy.
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