Eddie Jefferson: Summertime
Eddie Jefferson (vocals)
The Main Man (Inner City 1033)
Eddie Jefferson (vocals),
Charles Sullivan (trumpet), Slide Hampton (trombone), Richie Cole, Junior Cook, Hamiet Bluiett (reeds), Harold Mabern (piano), George Duvivier (bass), Billy Hart (drums).
Composed by George Gershwin & DuBose Heyward. Arranged by Slide Hampton.
Recorded: New York, October 9, 1977
Rating: 86/100 (learn more)
In the mid-'70s, Eddie Jefferson was starting to get overdue recognition as "the Godfather of Vocalese," and his fame continued to rise until he was murdered outside a Detroit nightclub in 1979. The Main Man was one of Jefferson's finest albums, featuring definitive versions of classics like "Jeannine" and "Moody's Mood For Love." "Summertime" is unusual in Jefferson's repertoire in that it does not appear to stem from an instrumental solo; rather, it is Jefferson's loose interpretation of the Gershwin standard. Interestingly, it is sung in the same key as John Coltrane's groundbreaking version - D minor - and like Coltrane, Jefferson seems interested in stripping away all the sentimentality of the original song. The tempo is medium fast and the performance is quite aggressive. On the second time through the song, Jefferson takes great liberties with the lyric (for example, "Fish are jumpin' about on the lake, flop, flop, flop, tryin' to give the fishermen a break") and strongly accents the asides (the "flops" above). However, the recording does not entirely break with the past, as Slide Hampton lifts Gil Evans's famous background riff and uses it to back Jefferson.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe