Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, Willie Nelson’s latest full-length album for Legacy Recordings, has debuted at #1 on both the Top Current Jazz chart and the Top Traditional Jazz chart. The only Willie Nelson albums to have previously scaled the Jazz charts have been Two Men With The Blues (#1, Top Jazz Albums, 2008; #1, Jazz Albums, 2009) and Here We Go Again: Celebrating The Genius of Ray Charles (#2, Jazz Albums, 2011; #2, Jazz Albums, 2012) (and each of those records was a collaboration with jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis).
Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin is proving a welcome addition to the catalog of the legendary American musical recording artist, with members of the press corps singing its praises in print and online. “What’s here is warming and inviting,” said AllMusic.com, “a record by an artist who is happy to be part of the great tradition of American song.”
Among the 11 Gershwin classics recorded by Willie Nelson for his new album are two duets: “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off” with Cyndi Lauper (the song was originally introduced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1937 film Shall We Dance) and “Embraceable You” with Sheryl Crow (the song was performed by Ginger Rogers in Girl Crazy, recorded by Billie Holiday in 1944 and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2005).
Other songs on Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin include: “But Not For Me” (written for Girl Crazy, Ella Fitzgerald’s version won a Grammy in 1960); “Somebody Loves Me” (published in 1944, the song was a hit for The Four Lads in 1952); “Someone To Watch Over Me” (written in 1926 for Oh, Kay!, the song also closes out Willie Nelson’s 1978 album Stardust); “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (written for the Gershwins’ 1935 pop/gospel opera Porgy and Bess); “I Got Rhythm” (the 1930s jazz standard written for Girl Crazy); “Love Is Here To Stay” (the last composition completed by George Gershwin before his death in 1937, the song serves as the main theme in An American In Paris and is a centerpiece of the Great American Songbook); “They All Laughed” (written for the 1937 film Shall We Dance); “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” (written for the 1937 film Shall We Dance); and the immortal “Summertime” (an aria originally written for Porgy and Bess, “Summertime” has become one of the most covered songs in pop music history).