Benefits of being fully vaxxed include not only the honor of making music with my buddy Brennen Leigh but also getting to spend time together. “Tonight’s gonna be an early night,” we said each day until 1am. So magical to still get those sleepover vibes in our 30s. Also! So special to have my first “post-pandemic” jamming experience with her.
Here we worked up a tiny dog meet cute song from 1933 by Little Jack Little, David Oppenheim, and Ira Schuster. Performed so entertainingly by Al Bowlly and Frances Day in the same year, but I haven’t come across any other versions. Have you seen any?
When read this song title I hear Céline Dion’s voice in my head. Unfortunately or otherwise I did not sing that song today, rather I chose Irving Berlin’s 1921 tune which was swung so swingingly by Ella Fitzgerald in 1958. I dedicate this performance to the memory of Ella, who singing has shaped so much of my musical life. I have nothing but love for her. ❤️
I am just so giddy to share this today. Like many of us uke enthusiasts all over the world, I have loved Ukulelezaza for years. I have spent so many hours watching and rewatching his videos online in order to learn his beautiful arrangements of old jazz tunes — and now our pixels and sound waves get to hang out together!
It occurred to me the other day that Ukulelezaza—through his YouTube library—was the one who taught me to play ukulele in this sweet, approachable, ultimately lovely, listenable style that I love so much. I have watched all the videos that I could possibly find online (Have you seen any that I haven’t found yet? Plz send them to me, I want them 🤪) and have learned many of his ukulele arrangements. I have the Ukulelezaza tab books. One of them has a drawing inside the front cover that makes me oh so happy. (Swipe for cuteness.)
Then maybe a year ago I read an interview with Remco aka Ukulelezaza in Ukulele magazine, and he mentioned someone who I can now call a friend, Charlotte Pelgen. I looked her up and was astonished! At the time I had just left a marriage, and with my ex I, like Charlotte, had a ukulele and upright bass band where we played jazz gems of the 1920s and 30s. This type of combo is not one I have seen other people doing, really, much less with a focus on the same type of repertoire. What are the chances that two people who are clearly musically meant for each other (that’s Charlotte and me, if you needed help keeping track) would be scheming similar musical schemes in the southwest US and in southern Germany? Who is this amazing woman, I wondered, who is living what seems to be a much, much cooler version of my life?!
Thanks to the lockdowns of last year, in my isolation I was able to gather up the courage to reach out to Charlotte and ask if she wanted to sing with me. And she did! And we have! (If you missed it, see Living in the Sunlight, which we shared last fall.)
So yes, this is a love letter to Charlotte and Ukulelezaza it is also a love letter to this sweet, rather tight-knit global ukulele community I find myself to be more and more a part of each day. Thank you so much Charlotte, for being so willing to make beauuuutiful music with me. (Yes, there is more on the way.) Thanks Jake for playing a mean bass and looking so slick while doing so. (Help me design my wardrobe and general life aesthetic, please?) I don’t know you very well yet but I have a feeling there is more great music to come!
And Remco, thank you so much for the decade of music you’ve made available to the world! I’ve enjoyed it over and over again and learned so much from it ♥️🧚🏻♀️✨
I love Yuming. All of the Japanese songs I have learned (there are three) are from Studio Ghibli movies and all of them were written and performed by Yumi Arai/Matsutoya. She is such an inspiring songwriter with an amazing career and body of work. This tune is one of my favorites 💕 I already recorded my other favorite, also from Kiki’s Delivery Service.
This performance is based on Guido Heistek’s arrangement that I found on Youtube a few years back. If you want tabs, please head on over to my Patreon ((( http://www.patreon.com/sageharrington ))) where you can access all the tabs I have ever shared which to be honest is just under a handful at this point, but you need time to work through them, anyway, amirite? Please enjoy this wonderful Fats Waller tune on a most wonderful instrument.
Moon River – that beautiful song sung by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Written by Henry Mancini. Apparently this song almost didn’t make it into the movie! Played on my old Regal tenor guitar, this instrument makes me work real hard.
I recorded this for my aunt Mary who is retiring. Wish I could party with you! <3
What is happening in my country right now is so intense. I am not quite sure what to say, just that a friend of mine put it really well when she said that incidents of white racist violence cannot be compared to acts of Black protest. I’ve been listening to the House impeachment hearings most of the day. With each person who compares the Black Lives Matter movement to the violent angry white insurrectionists who attempted a coup last week, I feel a little more nauseated. I also would really appreciate it if white democrats would stop claiming that “this is not who we are” as a country. Naw man, our country is 100% based on white violence against people of color. Physical violence, violence in economic, healthcare, education, and so many other aspects of our lives. We as white people have to acknowledge this and own it in order for anything to change.
Is there a smooth way to transition to talking about a 1920s song I recorded that was written by a Russian American (Irving Berlin) and burned into my brain forever by my favorite jazz singer of all time, African American Ella Fitzgerald? No, but since it is what I do, I recorded it am sharing it with you.
Sending love to you from unceded Tiwa land (so-called Albuquerque)—
Here is a bit of a look back to some of the videos—especially of the early jazz variety—I made in 2020. Plus, there are two performances hidden in there that I recorded in mid-2019 that nooooooo one has seen until now. Look out for Al Schackman in those two numbers. He’s a guitarist that played with Nina Simone for decades. (How’s that for a name drop!? Hah!)
If you want to “fast-forward” to those tunes specifically, click through to this video on YouTube and open up the video description where you will find clickable timestamps for the start of each song. And while you’re there, subscribe!
Happy New Year! Let me know what you’d like to see from me in 2021.
What do you do in the wintery depths of a global pandemic? Well, propose a creative collaboration with a perfect stranger living over 5000 miles away across a vast and endless ocean! This is the power of the internet and of course, the magnetizing, community-building power of the ukulele and of the music of the 1920s and ’30s. Please enjoy our rendition of everyone’s favorite tune from the pilot episode of Spongebob Squarepants. Thanks so much for singing with me, Charlotte!