Tunes on Tuesday: Softly As In A Morning Sunrise

Why this tune?

Today marks the birthday today of Sonny Clark, a great pianist who died far too young in 1963 at age 31. He recorded a fine version of “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” in 1958. This is another jazz and jam session classic that comes to us from the theater world, in this case the 1928 operetta “The New Moon” written by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II. Sigmund and Oscar probably wouldn’t recognize the way many jazz groups play it, swinging and sometimes very fast. Clark’s version starts out at a more moderate tempo, but still breaks into double time along the way.

Dig this detail!

Most instrumental versions of this tune don’t really account for the sad, melancholy lyrics, but there are plenty of fine vocal versions, from Dianne Reeves, Abbey Lincoln, and others, that express that story about love arriving and leaving just as quickly. Here’s a sample:

Softly as in a morning sunrise
The light that gave you glory
Will take it all away

Check it out!

Sonny Clark

Published by Oren Levine

Jazz pianist and composer in Washington, DC. Also a digital product and technology professional working at a small DC nonprofit

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