Why this tune?
“You Are Too Beautiful” is another classic from the “Great American Songbook,” written by Rodgers and Hart the 1933 film “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum,” where it was sung by Al Jolson. The film was an experiment in “rhythmic dialogue,” where all of the lines in the script were sung in time. The song was more successful than the film, as is the case for so many of the tunes we now call jazz standards.
Jazz fans may know this song best from the lovely recording by Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane. That’s an excellent opportunity to hear the brilliance of Lorenz Hart’s craft. The song starts with the title “You are so beautiful…” followed closely by “And I am a fool for beauty,” echoing in reverse the sounds of the opening line. Richard Rodgers’ melody and harmony, of course, stand on their own, and have been interpreted by many instrumentalists over the years.
I had the pleasure of recording this song at the beautiful Baldwin grand piano at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in Frederiksted St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.
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Full piano track
Hartman and Coltrane