Willow Weep for Me

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Willow Weep for Me (Ann Ronell)

The first recording released to the public was by the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra. It peaked at #17 on the hit chart. Two weeks later a recording by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra rose to 2nd place. It appeared in the pop charts again in 1964 when recorded by the folk rock duo Chad and Jeremy. Today there are over 800 covers of the song by artists ranging from hard bop trumpeters to crossover jazz stylists to country and western singers. – adapted from WICN.org’s Song of the Week feature

1932


(above, left) Ted Fio Rito, (right) Muzzy Marcellino

Ted Fio Rito and his Orchestra, vocal: Muzzy Marcellino – recorded in San Francisco, October 1932

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Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra, vocal: Irene Taylor – recorded in New York, 17 November 1932

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ambrose-orch-feb-1933-e1-d20sh5

 

Bert Ambrose and his Mayfair Hotel Orchestra – 1933

From the Wikipedia profile:

Benjamin Baruch Ambrose (15 September 1896 – 11 June 1971), known professionally as Ambrose or Bert Ambrose, was an English bandleader and violinist. Ambrose become the leader of a highly acclaimed British dance band, the Bert Ambrose & His Orchestra, in the 1930s.

Early life
Ambrose was born in the East End of London; his father was a Jewish wool merchant. He began playing the violin while young, and soon after he was taken to the United States by his aunt he began playing professionally — first for Emil Coleman at New York’s Reisenweber’s restaurant, then in the Palais Royal’s big band. After making a success of a stint as bandleader, at the age of twenty he was asked to put together and lead his own fifteen-piece band. After a dispute with his employer, he moved his band to another venue, where they enjoyed considerable popularity.

In 1922, he returned to London, where he was engaged by the Embassy Club to form a seven-piece band. Ambrose stayed at the Embassy for two years, before walking out on his employer in order to take up a much more lucrative job in New York. After a year there, besieged by continual pleas to return from his ex-employer in London, in 1925 he was finally persuaded to go back by a cable from the Prince of Wales: “The Embassy needs you. Come back — Edward.” [read more]

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June Christy: (left) radio broadcast, (right) with Stan Kenton

Stan Kenton and his Orchestra with June Christy (v) – the song appeared on the album Artistry in Rhythm in 1950; but it was recorded in 1946.

The first video has an interesting slide show featuring images of June Christy, but the first photo (later shown again several times) is of Jo Stafford in a recording studio, not June Christy.

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Art Tatum – solo, 1953

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Billie Holiday – Live Session #36 [radio broadcast] Boston, 6 October 1953 Storyville Club — Carl Drinkard (p) Jimmy Woode (b) Peter Littman (d) Billie Holiday (v) — paulo.novaes@billieholidaysongs.com comments, “there’s a small chat at the track beginning. The tempo gets very slow and it ends in a lament…” This clip is missing that chat and the introduction by John McClellan.

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Billie Holiday – Probably 29 Aug 1956, recorded for radio broadcast at the Red Hill Inn at Pennsauken, New Jersey –  Live Session #46 [radio broadcast] New Jersey- Musicians: prob. Carl Drinkard (p), Unknown (b), (d) Billie Holiday (v). I’ve chosen this date out of several live recordings of the song listed at billyholidaysongs.com primarily because it’s the closest match with respect to both duration and instrumentation.

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Muzzy Marcellino with studio orchestra led by Russ Garcia

From the album Birds of a Feather, 1957. The whistling is by Muzzy Marcellino, 25 years after his 1932 hit with Ted Fio Rito.

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Duke Ellington and his Orchestra – recorded 10 October 1957, soloist: Shorty Baker, trumpet . Released on the album Ellington Indigos, 1958

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Frank Sinatra – recorded 29 May 1958 — arrangement by Nelson Riddle; released on Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely

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Mary Lou Williams – recorded c.1950, possibly 3 January 1950

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Oscar Peterson and Roy Eldridge1961 — Provider boberwig at dailymotion.com (video library) comments

It must have been a pretty exclusive club somewhere in Italy. Normally only in large concerthalls we see pianist Oscar Peterson perform with his trio. Herb Ellis guitar, Ray Brown bass and Ed Thigpen drums. If that is not enough a special guest comes to join. Always joking, looking relaxed there he is: “Little” Roy Eldridge and his trumpet. But boy, what a great sound and so jazzy.A top performance of Willow Weep for Me.

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ANN RONELL – biography by Steve Huey, as published at AllMusic.com

One of the first successful female composers working in Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley, Ann Ronell was born in Omaha, NE, on December 28, 1908 (some sources alternately list 1906). She attended Radcliffe College and studied composition with Walter Piston, and also served as an editor on the college newspaper, where she got the chance to interview George Gershwin. Gershwin wound up giving her a job as his rehearsal pianist, giving her entry into the world of Broadway theater. Additionally, she took up teaching, worked as a vocal coach, and kept perfecting her songwriting, ranking as one of the few professionals of the era to handle both lyrics and music. She got her start in the business with 1930’s “Baby’s Birthday Party”; two years later she wrote the song that would become her greatest success, “Willow Weep for Me,” a jazz and pop standard recorded by countless singers and instrumentalists. [read more]

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Wes Montgomery — from the 1967 album A Day in the Life

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Ron Carter – solo, Switzerland – 1984

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Hank Jones – Carnegie Hall, 6 April, 1994 — part of the Verve 50th anniversary celebrations

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Willow weep for me
Willow weep for me
Bend your branches green along the stream that runs to sea
Listen to my plea
Hear me willow and weep for me

Gone my lovers dream
Lovely summer dream
Gone and left me here to weep my tears into the stream
Sad as I can be
Hear me willow and weep for me

Whisper to the wind and say that love has sinned
Left my heart a-breaking, and making a moan
Murmur to the night to hide its starry light
So none will see me sighing and crying all alone

Weeping willow tree
Weep in sympathy
Bend your branches down along the ground and cover me
When the shadows fall, hear me willow and weep for me

Oh, weeping willow tree
Weep in sympathy
Bend your branches down along the ground and cover me
When the shadows fall, hear me willow and weep for me

Words and Music by Ann Ronell
Copyright 1932

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. wayneman
    Mar 17, 2010 @ 16:03:06

    An absolutely incredible website! Thank you so much for all your labors in putting these treasures together. So much history and so much heavenly chords to tie our hearts as one. Do you have much on the Latin standards over the years? Thankfully, Wayneman

    Reply

    • doc
      Mar 17, 2010 @ 16:34:56

      Wayneman, Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I agree, music is the thread which ties us all together, by the heart. Do I have much on the Latin standards? Not really. I do have another site, bossanova1.wordpress.com, which features not only bossa nova music but also tropicália, and other early MPB. Although I’ve expanded beyond the original parameters (only bossa nova), the major focus remains on the popular music of the period 1958 to the early 70s. — Cheers, Jim

      Reply

    • doc
      Nov 11, 2013 @ 21:01:14

      wayneman,

      Have been periodically adding Latin standards. Today I created an index of those I’ve done feature pages on:

      Latin standards: 21 selected songs, 1928-1972

      I’m trying to think of a better, more precise but not overlong, title for the page.

      Reply

  2. doc
    May 30, 2011 @ 03:41:51

    My bossa nova & MPB site is presently closed due to insufficient free time with which to maintain it. — doc

    Reply

  3. Barry Hutchins
    Jun 25, 2011 @ 20:43:07

    Thanks doc for the education and the great work on this site. In the early sixtys when stationed at NAS Argentia, Newfoundland spent many nights listening to a wonderful Kenton LP that had (as far as I was concerned) the best WW4Me instrimental ever (w/o Julie) so … since I can’t find it anywhere my favorite rendition still has to be one available only in my memory……. thanks again Hutch

    Reply

    • doc
      Jun 26, 2011 @ 01:32:06

      Barry,
      That wasn’t so hard to find…if you know how. Second Hand Songs lists a recording by Stan Kenton and his Orchestra for 1960. So I search through Kenton’s album discography at Wikipedia and find a couple dated 1959 and one 1960. The 1960 title doesn’t look promising: Too Much (with Ann Richards). So I decide to try the ’59 titles first.The title Standards In Silhouette looks like it might be the one and cduniverse.com has a review and tracklist, here. Willow Weep for Me is the first track. All About Jazz has a review as well.

      I’m not certain that this is the track you’re looking for, but chances are better than slim I’d say.

      I’ve just recently reinstalled my Operating System and don’t have an account set up yet to allow me to play many audio files. I typically use Rhapsody.com for LP’s, Windows Media Player or a substitute for individual MP3s, and Real Alternative for ra sound files (the site redhotjazz.com uses this format). Let me know if you need any more help. — Cheers, Jim

      Reply

  4. doc
    Jun 26, 2011 @ 01:40:40

    Sorry about giving the wrong title originally of the 1959 Kenton LP which leads off with WW4Me. I’ve made a few corrections in the message immediately above. Again, it’s Standards In Silhouette.

    Reply

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