Tunes on Tuesday: Lullaby Of The Leaves

Why this tune?

For this week’s tune I was looking for a song for the season, and recalled “Lullaby Of The Leaves,” which suggests the falling leaves of autumn. This was a song from a minor 1932 Broadway revue, “Chamberlain Brown’s Scrap Book,” that was later adopted as a jazz standard. Mary Lou Williams recorded Bernice Petkere’s tune in 1944. By the 1950s, many other jazz players had taken it up, including Erroll Garner in 1950 and Gerry Mulligan in 1952.

Joe Young’s lyrics were performed by many jazz and pop vocalists, but with some variation. In the original lyrics, the “rustling of the leaves” recalls childhood memories of the South.
Ella Fitzgerald chose to forget the South in her version, replacing “In the sunny South” with “Days so long ago” and “Southland” with “Heaven.”

The New York Public Library site includes an interesting note about that 1932 show featuring this song, named for its producer Chamberlain Brown. ” Brown “classified it as a ‘vaudeville,’ thus permitting more than eight performances a week. However, Actors’ Equity Association ruled the show a revue and demanded its members give immediate notice. A week later, the ruling was overturned, but Chamberlain Brown’s victory was short-lived, since the musicians refused to work without being paid first, causing the production to close. (This incident is documented in correspondence with Actors’ Equity Association.)

Watch the story

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Complete track

Mary Lou Williams

Ella Fitzgerald

Ruby Braff and friends


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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