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Saturday April 19, 2014
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Bolcom & Morris

 

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"We needed a new focus," replies Morris by phone from a friend's apartment in New York, "and one hundred years ago were born Harold Rome, Johnny Green, and Johnny Burke. And they wrote such wonderful songs: 'Swinging on a Star,' 'South America, Take It Away,' and, of course, 'Body and Soul.'"

But why Burke's "Swinging on a Star"? Why not Green's "Body and Soul"? "Because it's the happiest title. And it's a great number: remember Bing Crosby singing it to those little kids in Going My Way? And it's hopeful-which is something we need now with the financial situation the way it is."

The current financial situation underlies some of Bolcom and Morris's non-1908 choices as well. "We'll also be doing 'Down in the Depths' by Cole Porter and 'Too Good for the Average Man' by Rodgers and Hart because they're so timely-again." Both songs come from shows that premiered in 1936-seven years into the Great Depression-and both are sung from the point of the view of the extremely wealthy. The Porter number is delivered by a rich widow who complains, "When the only one you wanted wants another/What's the use of swank and cash in the bank galore?" while "Too Good" was a duet for a Russian ballet impresario and a wealthy patroness who assert "Sing 'la and huzzah' for the poor folks/As long as the poor folks are your folks."

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