Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Begin The Beguine

Cole Porter
When Begin the Beguine debuted in Cole Porter’s musical comedy Jubilee in 1935, it was the longest popular song ever written at 108 bars. The conventional length for a song is 32 bars. The beguine of the title refers to a dance that was developed on the islands of Martinique, Cuba, and Guadeloupe in the 1930s. It is similar to a rumba, but slower, with dance moves performed smoothly and deliberately. Like many Latin dances, the beguine emphasizes the ability to roll the hips to evoke sensuality while performing the steps. Cole Porter composed the song during a 1935 Pacific cruise and also wrote the lyrics, and in 1938 clarinetist and bandleader Artie Shaw recorded his instrumental version of the song, that became a hit of the swing era. - Here is a filmed performance of Begin The Beguine featuring Artie Shaw and his orchestra from 1938

Another instrumental version of Begin The Beguine among my favorites was recorded by Oscar Alemán y su Quinteto de Swing November 4, 1942

Cole Porter probably adopted the musical form 'beguine' either in Paris, France or at a visit to Martinique during his 1935 Pacific cruise. The musical form -  like the dance style - has its origins in the French Antilles (Martinique and Guadeloupe) and another example of a beguine adopted by a popular artist is Josephine Baker's 1932 version of the song Madiana composed by the Martinique vocalist Maïotte Almaby 

This summer I have enjoed listening to several recordings of original creole music from Martinique, and to end this small entry on a popular song, I'll insert a couple of examples of this regional music that had success in Paris during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. At that time many musicians from Martinique were in Paris and made recordings that ought to be better known among jazz fans. One of the Martinique musicians, who made a career in Paris, was clarinetist Eugène Delouche (1909-1975). He led his own band of Martinique musicians called Del's Jazz Beguine, and in 1935 his ensemble recorded this beautiful song dedicated to Martinique

To end this, here's another recording by Del's Jazz Beguine - also from 1935, the title is Reverie 


Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

No comments:

Post a Comment