Esaie Cid Quintet: The Kay Swift Song Book Vol 2

While there is no logical reason or explanation, the fact remains that in the first half of the 20th century, female songwriters and / or lyricists writing material for (1) Tin Pan Alley, (2) Hollywood and (3) ) Broadway were thin on the ground. This means that once you verify the name of Ann Ronnell (Willow cries for me, who’s afraid of the big bad wolf), Mabel Wayne (In a small Spanish town, Little man, you had a busy day. ), Bernice Petkere (Close Your Eyes, Lullaby Of The Leaves), Dana Seusse (My Silent Love) and prolific lyricist Dorothy Fields (during a career spanning 1928 to 1973, she produced over 400 lyrics for jukebox, stage and screen) you are at your end.

Unless, of course, you take Kay Swift into account. You should, because not only was she arguably the most skilled – having studied classical composition at the Institute of Music (which later became Juilliard), she was also the first woman to write a full Broadway score.

Swing Alley is now out The Kay Swift Songbook Vol. 2 of the Esaie Cid Quintet, with nine compositions by Swift written between 1930 and 1970 which, for one reason or another, remain relatively unknown. According to Fresh Sound, “her three most enduring songs,” Fine and Dandy, Can’t We Be Friends? and can it be love? appeared in volume 1.

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Not having experienced volume 1, I arrived at volume 2 with fresh ears, not knowing what to expect. The group is pianoless and is reminiscent of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet of the early 1950s, although a larger performer and with different training (trombone, viola / clarinet, guitar, bass and drums as opposed to baritone saxophone, trumpet, bass , and drums).

Oddly enough, given Swift’s songwriting role, the band don’t seem to come up with themes and then improvise, but just start improvising immediately. The quintet has a definite bop style, so a parallel might be, for the sake of argument, something like Bud Powell plays Stephen Foster. The game is accomplished and Cid provided acceptable graphics, but it might appeal more to bop enthusiasts than to those looking for a glimpse of Swift, the songwriter.

Discography
Fatal Woman; A memory in the moonlight; Never again; Six pence and a smile; If I could write you a melody like Rodgers or Kern; Velvet shoes; Prayer with a beat; Write a song for me; John likes it when the wind blows (44.02)
Cid (like, cl); Jerry Edwards (to be confirmed); Gilles Réa (g); Samuel Hubert (b); Mourad Benhammou (d). Studio Piccolo, Paris, October 25, 2020.
Swing aisle 044

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