"Keeper of the Flame"
1897 - 1993
Can't We Be Friends?
Hardworking, ambitious classical composer, Broadway tunesmith or vivacious New York Jazz-era socialite? The arc of Kay Swift's life and career, tied up forever with George Gershwin's legacy, took many surprising twists and turns. In the end she left behind a handful of gorgeous, unforgettable melodies.
Katharine Faulkner Swift was born in New York City in 1897. Her father Samuel was a music critic for a number of publications, including the New York Tribune and Sun. Katherine grew up surrounded by opera, symphonies and violin concertos. Although the family often struggled financially, they always found a way to develop their daughter's evident passion for music. At 6 she loved opera, especially Wagner, and began composing her own pieces on piano with surprising sophistication. By the time Katharine was 8, Samuel's contacts with the classical world enabled her to study at the Institute of Musical Art in New York (which later became Julliard) putting her in the hands of a series of strict and exacting teachers. Young Katharine thrived under the rigorous tutelage. Although many young ladies of the day studied piano and voice, few were encouraged to advance further. Fortunately for Katharine, the Institute was unusually committed to pushing those barriers, as she excelled at orchestration, advanced composition and theory.
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"Can't We Be Friends" - Frank Sinatra, In The Wee Small Hours
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong render a classic duet that
shows off all the great verses.
"Can This Be Love" - Bobby Short (beautifully understated performance) Bobby loved this song, and it was always a treat to hear him play and sing this live.
Sun Ra also recorded this on an LP made in his living room. Hearing the instrumental version brings out the beauty of Kay Swift's work.
"Fine and Dandy" - Barbra Streisand, on her first LP, treated the song as a very slow ballad, which served as a showcase for that astonishing voice.
Django Reinhardt, "Jazz in Paris, vol 9"
Stephane Grappelli, of course
Art Tatum, "Fine Art & Dandy" LP
"Fine & Dandy: (2004 Studio Cast) (World Premiere Recording)" - Audio CD. Without this recording and the research that went into restoring the original performance materials, the Broadway show Fine & Dandy would have been lost to us. Its great fun to hear the original versions of these songs, including the many verses for the song "Fine & Dandy" filled with topical references of it's day. Excellent liner notes, too.