26 September 2023

Blues In The Night – Songs by Harold Arlen

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Anne Burnell, Spectrum Music 2005/2023.

Blues In The Night is a re-issue of an album first released many years ago by well-respected Chicago based blues and jazz singer Anne Burnell.

The 12 tracks cover many of Harold Arlen’s best-known songs and they are performed in a laid back and relaxed jazz/blues style.

The album was very successful on its release back in 2005 becoming a staple on NPR and Jazz radio stations across America as well as making the playlists in many overseas markets, particularly in Amsterdam and on Canadian National Radio.

It made the Top 10 and was even deemed to be ‘cool’ enough to gain airtime on the College Radio playlists.

Anne is one half of a duet that includes her husband Mark Burnell on vocal and piano.

The two of them are well established in the windy city’s jazz and blues scene.

Harold Arlen was an American composer of popular music, he was born in 1905 and died in 1986.

He became known worldwide as the composer of the songs for ‘The Wizard of Oz’ including Somewhere Over The Rainbow which was voted as the 20 th century’s number one song by the Recording Industry Academy Awards.

Naturally that song is on this album.

His first big hit was Get Happy (1929) and throughout the early 1930s he and lyricist Ted Koehler wrote shows for the famous Cotton Club in Harlem as well as Broadway Musicals and they even worked on Hollywood films together.

Amongst the hit songs to come from their partnership are classics like Let’s Fall In Love and Stormy Weather.

By the mid-1930s, Arlen had married and he was primarily working in Hollywood writing for film.

It was during this time that he teamed up with lyricist Yip Harburg and they wrote Somewhere Over The Rainbow for ‘The Wizard of Oz’;Down With Love for the Broadway show ‘Hooray For What’;Lydia The Tattooed Lady for Groucho Marx in ‘At The Circus’; and Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe for Ethel Walters in the movie ‘Cabin In The Sky’.

Arlen composed many songs for Judy Garland including The Man That Got Away which was written for the 1954 film ‘A Star Is Born.’

Arlen’s song credits cover some of the greatest songs of all time: Blues in The Night, That Old Black Magic, Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home, Come Rain Or Come Shine and the list goes on.

Most of these songs appear on this excellent album.

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