Episode 118. Stephen Sondheim & Joséphine Baker

Episode 118. Stephen Sondheim & Joséphine Baker

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Two titans of culture were in the news this past week for very different reasons. Just as I was publishing last week’s episode came the news that Stephen Sondheim had died at the age of 91 a few hours earlier. Today’s episode begins with a by-no-means-exhaustive tribute to the composer-lyricist, whose work completely changed the face of the so-called Broadway and who is responsible for two of my very favorite stage works of all time, Follies and Sweeney Todd. Second, the great French-American artiste Joséphine Baker was inducted this week into the Panthéon in Paris, the first American and the first person of color to be afforded this honor. I have been an undying fan of La Baker since I first encountered her during my childhood, first in the pages of Time magazine and second, nearly fifteen years later, on an astonishing PBS television special. While I touch, as one must, upon her enormous cultural importance and significance, the focus today is on her prowess as musician, singer, and showperson. I feature excerpts from her first recording session in 1926 through her final stage appearance in April 1975, just days before her death. Though these two icons shared little common ground, their individual importance simply cannot be overestimated.

RECORDINGS HEARD IN THIS EPISODE

Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim: Three Wishes for Christmas (cut from Gypsy). Tony Yazbeck, orchestra and ensemble conducted by Patrick Vaccariello [2008]

Stephen Sondheim: Send in the Clowns (A Little Night Music). Daniel Gundlach [live Berlin July 2018]

Stephen Sondheim: Another Hundred People (Company). Judy Kaye, ensemble led by Thomas Fay, musical direction by Paul Gemignani [live New York 03 March 1983]

Stephen Sondheim: Can that Boy Foxtrot! (cut from Follies). Julie Wilson, William Roy [1987]

Stephen Sondheim: Losing My Mind (Follies). Victoria Clark, orchestra conducted by James Moore [live Los Angeles, Spring 2012]

Stephen Sondheim: Someone in a Tree (Pacific Overtures). Mark Hsu Syers, James Dybas, Gedde Watanabe, Mako, orchestra conducted by Paul Gemignani [1976]

Stephen Sondheim: With So Little to Be Sure of (Anyone Can Whistle). George Hearn, Victoria Mallory, Thomas Fay, musical direction by Paul Gemignani [live New York 03 March 1983]

Vincent Scotto, Géo Koger, Henri Varna: J’ai deux amours. Joséphine Baker, Adrien Lamy, Orchestra conducted by Edmond Mahieux [1930]

Vincent Scotto, Henri Varna, Marc Cab: C’est vous. Joséphine Baker [1944]

Harry Akst, Joe Young, Sam M. Lewis: Dinah. Joséphine Baker, Orchestre Jazz Olivier’s Boys [1926]

Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed, French text by Jean Féline: Comme une banque [I’m Feeling Like a Million]. Joséphine Baker, Wal-Berg [Voldemar Rosenberg] et son Orchestre [1937]

Bronislau Kaper, Gus Kahn, Walter Jurmann, French text by Jean Féline: J’ai un message pour toi [A Message from the Man in the Moon]. Joséphine Baker, Wal-Berg [Voldemar Rosenberg] et son Orchestre [1937]

Mack Gordon, Harry Revel, French words by Jean Féline: J’attends votre retour [There’s a Lull in My Life]. Joséphine Baker, Wal-Berg [Voldemar Rosenberg] et son Orchestre [1937]

Cole Porter, French text by Louis Hennevé, Louis Palex: Vous faites partie de moi [I’ve Got You Under My Skin]. Joséphine Baker, Wal-Berg [Voldemar Rosenberg] et son Orchestre [1937]

Georges Van Parys, Roger Bernstein: C’est lui (Zou-Zou). Joséphine Baker, Alain Romans, Jazz du Poste Parisien [1934]

Vincent Scotto, Géo Koger, Émile Audifred: Haïti (Zou-Zou). Joséphine Baker, Alain Romans, Jazz du Poste Parisien [1934]

Jacques Dallin, André de Badet: Sous le ciel d’Afrique (Princesse Tam-Tam). Joséphine Baker, Comedian Harmonists [1935]

Maïotte Almaby: Madiana. Joséphine Baker, Edmond Mahieux, Le Mélodie-Jazz du Casino de Paris [1931]

Armando Orefiche, André de Badet: Mayari. Joséphine Baker, Lecuona Cuban Boys [1939]

Ary Barroso, Bob Russell: Brazil [Aquarela do Brasil]. Joséphine Baker; Jo Bouillon et son Orchestre [1944]

Ary Barroso, Albert Bossy (French words): Terre sèche [Tera seca]. Joséphine Baker; Jo Bouillon et son Orchestre [1959]

Georges Van Parys, Roger Bernstein: C’est lui (Zou-Zou). Joséphine Baker, Jo Bouillon et son Orchestre [1953]

Peter Kreuder: Die Regenbogenkinder. Joséphine Baker, Peter Kreuder [1959]

Charles Trenet: En Avril à Paris; Vernon Duke, Yip Harurg: April in Paris. Joséphine Baker, Tony Taño, Orquestra del Teatro Musical de la Habana [1967]

With Bruno Coquatrix, impresario of the Olympia, 1968

Pierre Spiers, Roger Desbois: Quand je pense a ça. Joséphine Baker, Orchestra conducted by Pierre Spiers [1968]

Joséphine chante Paris [Medley]: Louiguy, Edith Piaf: La vie en rose; Jean Lenoir: Parlez-moi d’amour; Georges Lafarge: La Seine; Henri Betti: C’est si bon; Pierre Spiers: Sourire à la vie. Joséphine Baker, Orchestra conducted by Pierre Spiers [live Paris 8 April 1975]

Claude François, Jacques Revaux, English lyrics by Paul Anka: My Way. Joséphine Baker, Orchestra conducted by Karl Hampton Porter [live Carnegie Hall 05 June 1973]

Vincent Scotto, Géo Koger, Henri Varna: J’ai deux amours. Joséphine Baker, Jo Bouillon et son Orchestre [1953]

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