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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How High the Moon (BOTB)




         Here we are in the middle of July and rushing toward summer's end.   But it's only the 15th of the month and that means it's time for another Battle of the Bands.   Yes sirree, this is an event that takes place on the 1st and 15th of each month.   Far Away Eyes at Far Away Series gets the credit for first conceiving this homage to music.  Stephen T McCarthy maintains the participant list and answers your questions about the event--you can find his blog with the list of participants at  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This is not at all complicated:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battles to vote on.

How High the Moon

      Since my last Battle covered the vast Milky Way galaxy I thought I'd bring this one a little closer to home and focus on the moon.  Or more precisely, how high the moon.   Actually this song has nothing to do with the 238,900 miles from the Earth to the Moon, but is merely a somewhat nonsensical poetic rumination on love, romance, and the longing heart.  The song written by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis first appeared in the 1940 Broadway stage musical revue Two for the Show.

       Now a standard jazz tune, "How High the Moon" has been recorded by numerous artists and performed by a great many more.  If all of the performances of the song were to be placed one after another they would reach to the moon.  Actually I made that up, but it somehow seemed appropriate.

        It was very difficult to pick just two versions so I went with two contrasting versions.  This is one of those songs that could be used for many Battles in the future.   So many great stylings of the song to be had, but here are the two I settled for:


Les Paul and Mary Ford "How High the Moon" (1951)

       Probably the most well known recording of this classic song is by this duo.  Their version was #1 on the charts for nine weeks.  With the innovative multitrack recording pioneered by inventor and guitar virtuoso Les Paul, the recording portended the effects that became commonplace for artists to follow.   Fast and snappy, this version rocks.





Mitchell Ayres and his Fashions In Music with Mary Ann Mercer "How High the Moon" (1940)
     
       A hint of his classical music background comes through on this recording by Mitchell Ayres.   After his short stint with his Fashions in Music orchestra, Ayres went on to conduct orchestras for artists like the Andrews Sisters and Perry Como.  In 1969 Ayres died at age 60 after being hit by a car in Las Vegas where he was working as the musical conductor for Connie Francis at the Landmark Hotel.  Coming a decade prior to the hit by Les Paul and Mary Ford, this is among the first recordings of "How High the Moon"--a bit more sophisticated than the 1951 hit without the rocking and rolling.






Time to Vote!

          There you have it--two great versions of one great song.  Which do you like the best?   Please don't use the excuse that you don't like the music or you don't know this song.  You don't have to like the music and it doesn't matter if you've never heard it before.  Just judge what you hear.  Which version do you prefer?    It's up to you to help determine the winner.   

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose (or which one was the least objectionable to your ears).  Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around.   And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.


Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

FAR AWAY SERIES’ 

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ 

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

DC Relief Battle of the Bands

Shady Dell Music and Memories   

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Women:  We Shall Overcome  

Alex J. Cavanaugh 

Book Lover

J. A. Scott  (New this round!)




Results on Monday July 20th

         You've got until Sunday afternoon July 19th to cast your vote.    You'll get the final vote tally for this Battle on my post of Monday July 20th.   Please vote!   Battle of the Bands seems to be more interesting when we get votes.

          Are you aware of Les Paul's contributions to modern music?   Do you like to hear old standards ramped up a bit with rock and roll rhythms?     Have you ever written romantic poetry using the moon as your inspiration?  

58 comments:

  1. Hey Lee, how are your summer travels going? I love the 40s era! The music is so magical. I like both recordings equally, but I think Mitchell Ayers transports me back in time better with his sound, so I'm giving my vote to Mitchell Ayers. Nice battle!

    Come by to vote when you can in my
    Mr. Bojangles #BOTB showdown! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cathy, I love the big band sounds of the 40's especially when they are like this.

      A vote for Mitchell Ayers to start the proceedings.

      Lee

      Delete
  2. Hey there Lee, I am placing my vote with Les Paul. I enjoyed the faster rhythm and of course the guitar playing!!!
    I participated in the battle too this week. Come on over if you can make it and tell me what you think. :)
    Have a great day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Holli giving a nod to faster rhythms and good pickin'

      First vote for Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  3. Nice battle I do like the two different versions! My vote will go with Les Paul and Mary Ford.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike, these are two very different versions for sure.

      Another vote for Les Paul

      Lee

      Delete
  4. Easy peasy for me. I'm voting for Les and Mary. Do I know of Les' contribution? Of course I do, he was one of my husbands friends. Not kidding, knew him really well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne, very cool to have known Les Paul.

      And a vote for Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  5. I like Les Paul and Mary Ford's version best. As you put it, "fast and snappy" - I like that!
    Michele at Angels Bark

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    Replies
    1. Michele, another vote for pacing.

      Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  6. I preferred Les Paul and Mary Ford's version. It was quicker and the other one just took way too long to get to the singing. It was to the point where I was getting used to it being an instrumental song and then the singing jarred me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Madilyn, casting a vote for Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  7. Hands down Les Paul & Mary Ford. That is one of my fave songs ever. Les Paul was an amazing and innovative guitarist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JoJo, yes Les Paul is a legend among guitar players.

      Another vote for Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  8. Mary Ann Mercer for me! Melodic and soothing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diedre, a vote for Mary Ann means a vote for Mitchell Ayres.

      Lee

      Delete
  9. Les Paul and Mary Ford, that's the one I remember the other version before I was born. Great song Lee.
    Have fun.
    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yvonne, I'm sure the Paul/Ford version is the one that most of us are familiar with and for good reason.

      A vote for Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  10. This is a challenge. Two very unique versions of the same song. Do I like the fast upbeat tempo of the first? Or the slower soothing sound of the second? I believe I shall cast my vote for Mitchell and Mary.
    When I think of jazz, I think of slow and soothing before upbeat. Though both are valid, depending on my mood.
    Vote - Mitchell & Mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeffrey, your analysis makes sense to me.

      A vote for Mitchell Ayres.

      Lee

      Delete
  11. Les and Mary. Had a real Andrews Sisters' vibe to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CW votes Andrews Sisters.

      Er, I mean Mitchell Ayres

      Lee

      Delete
    2. Actually I need to correct that to Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
    3. Actually I need to correct that to Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  12. Hands down, I prefer the 1940's version Mitchell Ayres.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ann, Good news for the 40's version!

      A vote for Mitchell Ayres.

      Lee

      Delete
  13. Gotta be Les Paul and Mary Ford for me! Really good pairing, though. Nice job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cherdo, thanks for your vote for Les Paul and Mary Ford.

      Lee

      Delete
  14. I vote for Ayres. I prefer the more classical song. I'd never heard this song before. I'm aware of Les Paul's achievements. I don't think the moon has ever influenced my poetry.

    Love,
    Janie

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    Replies
    1. Janie, but "moon" has such great rhyming potential!

      A vote for Mitchell Ayres

      Lee

      Delete
  15. I really enjoyed the 2nd version. It was so dreamy in the rendering with her beautiful voice. I prefer that slower version of Mary Ann Mercer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Birgit, all is not lost for the underdogs!

      A vote for Mitchell Ayres.

      Lee

      Delete
  16. BOIDMAN ~
    A truly excellent BOTB installment. This is what it's all about! Two fine but very different recordings of a memorable song!

    And it's very telling that you can mention "Les Paul" and "Chet Atkins" and most people under the age of 45 will have no idea who you're yakking about.

    I like both of these recordings really well. (Had never heard the Mitchell Ayres version before, that I can recall.) But I gotta vote for that innovative guitarist (and his wife) Les Paul.

    I've got many BOTB blog bits to visit yet, but I've already seen that 7/15 has offered us some really good tunes to vote on.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. STMcC, I've barely started checking out Battle posts and now it looks like I probably won't get back to them until Friday night when I'm in a motel with wifi that hopefully works well.

      I figured you might vote for Les and Mary rather than Mitchell and Mary. I think it's a tough choice.

      I'll record your vote for Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  17. No arguments here - voting for Les Paul.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Very good battle, Lee. A true classic song with two very different styles, both of which are fine versions.

    My fav is Ella's from Montreaux... but that is not a choice. I own the Les Paul version and love it too, so it gets my vote.

    We are traveling in Colorado right now. Where are you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sboy6, at the moment I'm in a dingy motel in Danville, VA. Needed to stay here tonight but most of the better places were filled because of NASCAR races. At least they have wifi here.

      A vote for Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  19. Loved the visuals on the first one and snappy it surely was with some excellent guitar plucking of the strings. Not sure about the 2nd one ...
    I'll go with the first - Les Paul and Mary Ford though a little too snappy for me ..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan, I hope I'm understanding your comment okay. I'm recording your vote for Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  20. Lovely pick for a battle, Lee. My vote goes to Mitchell Ayres. The Les Paul version, as innovative as it was, seemed too cheery to be true, if that makes any sense :D

    Thanks for the visit and vote over at Quiet Laughter , too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Guilie, your assessment makes perfect sense to me.

      A vote for Mitchell Ayres.

      Lee

      Delete
  21. It takes too long to get anywhere with the second one for me, so I'm voting Les Paul and Mary Ford!

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    Replies
    1. Loni, no patience for the leisurely Ayres approach. Another vote going to Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  22. Both of these are excellent examples of the music of their time. The Mitchell Ayres version is definitely a dance arrangement; it's much longer so everyone can dance to it. I doubt you could dance to the Les Paul-Mary Ford version very easily, but again, the highlight of their records is Mary's singing, Les's guitar playing, and the echo and multitracking. I like both of them for those reasons.

    I'm going with Les and Mary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, yes I can imagine a big band in some swanky club back in the 40's with couples dancing to the Ayres style. I'll give your vote to Les Paul.

      Lee

      Delete
  23. When I first read your post, I thought; I know this song. When I listened to the first contender, I thought; oops, not the song I was thinking of, but when I listened to the Mitchell Ayres, I knew this was the song I was thinking of. (I think my parents had this record). So, cast my vote for the slower more familiar Mitchell Ayres version. The Les Paul was good and quite interesting, just not wht I waws expecting.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. FAE, it would be very cool if it were this version your parents had on record. What a great record to own now.

      A vote for Mitchell Ayres.

      Lee

      Delete
  24. Another interesting battle, Lee. Yes, I'm familiar with Les Paul and Mary Ford - my mother was into music in a big way. ☺ Les Paul's guitar prowess can't be ignored, plus the vocals were better, but I have to vote for Mitchell Ayers.That big band 40s sound is more pleasing to me ears. Hope you're enjoying your grandfatherly duties. My battle is looking like a blowout! Come on by and vote, if you get the chance. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie, Mary Ford did do some nice vocals, but I also like that big band style of singing. I'm now on my way to visit the grandkids in NJ--be there in a couple of days.

      I was afraid that my contest could be a blowout, but I'm pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

      Your vote is for Mitchell Ayres.

      Lee

      Delete
  25. Mitchell Ayres and his Fashions In Music with Mary Ann Mercer... definitely. There is a discordance in the newer version during some of the lower notes. Plus, the older version feels classic without sounding cheap.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Jennifer, I agree about not only the classic sound of the Ayres version, but I also think it shows a lot of class.

      Another vote for Mitchell Ayres.

      Lee

      Delete
  26. Definitely the 1940 Mitchell Ayres. I love the music from that time period; it is so silky and sophisticated.

    In "It's a Wonderful Life", Jimmy Stewart promises he'll lasso the moon for Donna Reed. The moon always plays a part in love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan, just yesterday as I was driving to NJ I was listening to an old radio broadcast version of It's a Wonderful Life with the original film cast.

      A vote for Mitchell Ayres.

      Lee

      Delete
  27. Oh yeah; two very good versions. And, I'm not a bit swayed by the inclusion of my avatar Betty Boop in the video. No, not at all *cough*

    I liked the lyrics though. I don't believe I've ever heard this song, and while the big band musical is appealing, I enjoyed the lyrics, vocals, and instrumentation of Les Paul version.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dolorah, a vote by default via Betty Boop!

      Les Paul remains in the lead with your vote.

      Lee

      Delete
  28. I know I'm a little late to the party .. I like the second version better. It reminds me of an old b&w movie.

    thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thea, thanks for the vote. I've added it to the final tally.

      Lee

      Delete

Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee