When do songs, or tunes, officially become “standards”? I have no idea, and a search of the vast wind swept expanses of the inetrweb has left me none the wiser.
Is it when it’s covered by three different people? Four? Five?
It would appear there is no agreement. It just seems, to me, to be a song that is reprised, redone and revisited so often that it becomes familiar without becoming boring (or, god forbid to use today’s awful parlance “re-imagined”).
Got a couple of new (to me) Frank Morgan releases lately. Frank was very much a product of the 40’s bop revolution. He even took that well trodden, stereotypical, jazz musicians path into a life of drug addiction before emerging clean in the 80’s and bringing out a raft of wonderful albums, that while new and exciting still harked back to a time that many jazz fans longed to return to (“the past is another country – they do things differently there” and all that).
One of the reasons that Frank put forward for his misuse of drugs was the burden he felt being cited as the new “Bird”. And yet, once clean he managed to face up to this challenge and quite a lot of his output is Parker influenced.
Anyway. One of the albums, “Yardbird Suite” contains wonderful covers of some of my favourite, Parker penned or associated, standards. A beautiful “Skylark”, a song so beautiful you’d have to be really ham fisted to ruin. A cracking “Scrapple From The Apple” that flows at breakneck speed, the titular “Yardbird Suite” that jumps out of your speakers, grabs you by the neck and takes you a walk down a busy New York street at night in the company of Mulgrew Millers machine gun rapid, staccato, piano and Ron Carter’s languid bass.
Anyway. Back to the notion of “standards”.. I have to confess an over familiarisation with “Night In Tunisia”. Dizzy’s anthem is so often covered, it no longer does it for me. But this version takes the tune so closely back to it’s original bebop roots that I could grew to love it again. Out of the twenty odd versions I have, this is up there in the top three (I’ve about 15 versions of Skylark, and I love them all).