About the Songs…

When I first began to think about making a record of standards, it was clear that searching for the original vocal read would be an important aspect of my effort. As a songwriter and a singer I have found that many of the beloved old classics have been changed a great deal whether intentional or not. Verses, lyrics and arrangements have been deleted or changed and in some cases quite dramatically. Going back to the earliest vocal read to hear what might have been the author’s original intention was a real education. I encourage all musicians to do it.

I thought of these songs as “elders” instead of “standards” to remove the heroic connotation and to allow there to be space for the song to simply be.


Click on this LINK to purchase “When I Was Long Ago” by Rebecca Martin

Follow along by listening on ITUNES



For All We Know (1934)  J. Fred Coots/Sam Lewis

The first vocal read was apparently performed  by Morton Downey (known as the “Irish Thrush”) on his popular radio show in 1932. It was quite impossible to find.

As is true with each song that has one, the verse is generally what attracts me to want to sing it. No matter how timeless or beautiful a lyric is as a whole, these short odd measured bits of music and words really pack a punch and sets the tone for the song.  I don’t know why so many musicians chose to remove them.

Bill, Larry and I had done several takes before deciding on one as a final. After listening back, Bill asked to re-take his opening solo.. The live room at the Clubhouse Recording Studio in Rhinebeck has a very comfortable couch, so I stayed behind in the room as he and Larry did a take. From the opening note, I knew it was going to be special and before I knew it, I was up on my feet singing.  You can hear some hesitation with Larry and Bill, as they weren’t certain if I had planned to sing the entire tune. I did, and not only was it the take, it also became the first track on the record.


But Not For Me (1930) G. Gershwin/I. Gershwin

Ginger Rogers introduced this tune during the first performance of Girl Crazy on Oct. 14th, 1930.  But it was Doris Day whose version inspired me the most.  I have found that her vocal reads are generally the clearest and perhaps the truest as far as verses and melodies are concerned. Peggy Lee and June Christie are similar in that way. Very few liberties are taken that stray from the melody. As a songwriter, I appreciate that the most.


Lush Life (1938 ) Billy Strayhorn

Strayhorn began to write this tune in 1933 as a teenager and then went on to fine tune it for many years. It wasn’t until 1948 that he debuted the “Lush Life” lyrics with the singer Kay Davis as part of the difficult to find recording of a November 13th, 1948 Duke Ellington Concert Series at Carnegie Hall.  In it, Strayhorn and Davis perform as a duo which is a fantastic bit of history to have on record.

A later and stellar performance of “Lush Life” was done by Ella Fitzgerald with Oscar Peterson in 1957.  It no doubt inspired me in bringing these lovely words into the forefront.

LISTEN: Billy Strayhorn and Kay Davis, 1948   Lush Life


No Moon At All (1948) R. Evans/D.A. Mann

I fell in love with this tune when I heard a live recording that the drummer Jeff Ballard captured of his group The Brad Mehldau Trio back in 2004-05. It is a magical performance complimented by an absolute perfect tempo. As a gift, he made a copy of the numerous CD’s for Larry – and voila!  The soundtrack of my life for many years.

Searching for the original vocal read of this tune was a challenge. I found very little written about its origins. After a lot of listening, the version sung by Jeri Southern was my favorite. She did a great rendition, and again – the tempo was just killer. This song really lends itself to that, as to my ears, it’s an extremely sensual tune.


Charlie Sings… (2010)

Larry and I have one beautiful son, Charlie James Grenadier.   His timing was impeccable on the day that we were recording, as he arrived at the studio just as we were in the midst of tracking ‘Cheer Up Charlie’. Of course, he loves the song and wanted to sing along with us, but became shy and distracted by everything buzzing around him.  We ended up getting very little on tape.  Still, I love having it.


Cheer Up Charlie (1971) A. Newley/L. Bricusse/W. Scharf

Diana Sowle, who plays Mrs. Bucket in the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” sings the original vocal read of this tune. The song is as touching as it is clever.  I’m happy to have it in my repertoire.


Low Key Lightly  (Lucky In Love) (1959) D. Ellington/B. Strayhorn.
Lyrics by Rebecca Martin (2010)

In 2009, the drummer Jeff Ballard wrote to me from Spain wondering if I knew of any lyrics written for the tune ‘Low Key Lightly’ by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.  Looking about, I found several instrumental versions but nothing with lyrics.   In “Anatomy of a Murder” the song runs throughout as its theme. I decided to take a stab at it, even though writing in this way is really a challenge for me. The result was a lyric that I felt was inspired and balanced enough to record and include on this album.


Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams (1931) H. Barris/T. Koehler/B. Moll

Bing Crosby introduced this tune in 1931.  The verse, which is little known today, was intact as was the delightful arrangement that includes a carefree whistling solo. Sarah Vaughn’s version from the Divine One was my introduction to the tune back in 1988 when I was given it as a gift. The verse was not included here.

Though we tracked this tune with the trio initially, I decided to go about it as a duo. It was a real challenge to make this tune my own, but I am satisfied that we did.

LISTEN: Bing Crosby sings “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams”   WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS



Someone To Watch Over Me (1926)  G. Gershwin/I. Gershwin

This is yet another excellent example as to why it is essential to attempt to go back to hear the earliest vocal read of any old tune.

Blossom Dearie did a version that is my personal favorite.  I think that if you were to ask anyone the tempo of this tune, they’d call it a ballad.  What a surprise to hear Gertrude Lawrence, who performed the first vocal read in 1926 (what lucky gal!). The quirky up-tempo swing version was refreshing for me to hear. Though subtle, I made a decision to do it as a walking ballad, giving the song a slight lift.  I love a ballad, don’t get me wrong. People behave like them after all, remember?

LISTEN: Gertrude Lawrence sings “Someone To Watch Over Me” (Coming Soon)



I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (1939) R. Rodgers/L.Hart

This tune was written for the musical “Too Many Girls” and introduced by Richard Kollmar and Marcy Westcott. I wasn’t successful at finding it, though it’s quite easy to get your hands on the film version from 1940 with Lucille Ball (though overdubbed by Trudy Erwin).

I came to it through Paul Motian back in 2006 when we were performing together at the Village Vanguard. He gave me a great list of tunes to learn for our live performances. I found a version that I loved by Peggy Lee off of her 1956 recording ‘Black Coffee’ and I was off and running.


Willow Weep For Me (1932) A. Ronell

Long ago, my father-in-law Albert Grenadier (who was a passionate trumpet player in his day) gave me a list of songs he wished I would sing. One of them was “Willow Weep For Me”. For years I would sing it, and wondered often if it had a verse. Everyone I spoke to was certain it did not. I wasn’t ever able to find a version that had one. Muzzy Marcellino (vocalist AND whistler) introduced the tune back in 1932, which I have not yet been successful at finding. So it was literally the eleventh hour that Larry discovered a lead sheet in the attic that low and behold, shared its verse!. As I recall, it was about two days before our record session, so was a quick study for us both. I am so pleased to include it here, as I don’t think there is one recording out there (that is accessible at least) that has it.

“When I Was Long Ago” to be Released In France on September 28th, 2010

“When I Was Long Ago”  will be released on Naive records  in France on September 28th.

NPR: Your Favorite ‘Great Unknowns’ in Jazz

Check out this piece on Rebecca Martin’s latest release by NPR by following  this LINK.

Rebecca Martin Record Release Concert on Tuesday, August 31st in New York City

Come celebrate the release of Rebecca Martin’s latest recording ‘When I Was Long Ago’ at the Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2) on Tuesday, August 31st 2010. She will be accompanied by Larry Grenadier (Bass) and Bill McHenry (Tenor Saxophone).

This special event will be ‘donation only’ at the door to accommodate and to thank fans during these hard economic times.

Records will be available that night for sale, or pre-order yours now by visiting this LINK.

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
7:00pm Doors
8:00pm Showtime

The Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2)

RECORD RELEASE  “When I Was Long Ago” (Sunnyside Records)
Featuring Rebecca, Larry Grenadier and Bill McHenry

“When I Was Long Ago” Ready To Pre-Order

It’s here!

You can pre-order your copy by following this LINK

The official release date is August 31st. Rebecca and the trio will perform at the Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2) that evening (Tuesday, 8/31) at 8:00pm. In these challenging economic times, the group has decided to make their record release a donation only which will allow everyone to attend. CD’s will be available that evening with an opportunity for autographed copies.

We also hear rumors that Gretchen Parlato will be joining Rebecca on stage that evening for a special performance….

Rebecca On Video Arts in Japan

In addition to the states, the new album by Rebecca Martin “When I Was Long Ago” will be released in Japan on Video Arts Music on October 20th, 2010.  A confirmation of plans and scheduled tour dates to follow.

In the US, the album will be available in stores nationwide (and at your favorite online distributor) Tuesday, August 31st on Sunnyside Records.

Audio/Video Teaser Trailer For Rebecca Martin’s “When I Was Long Ago”

Film maker James Dean Conklin made this video/audio teaser of the new recording ‘When I Was Long Ago’ out in stores nationwide on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010.

The West Coast and Record Release

"When I Was Long Ago" by Rebecca Martin. Photo Credit Todd Chalfant, c2010

It will be a busy couple of months as we prepare to launch the release of my new recording “When I Was Long Ago” (Sunnyside Records) on August 31st, 2010. It’s a simple and elegant recording of standards that feature Larry Grenadier (Bass) and Bill McHenry (Saxophone). We made it live to two track with James Farber and Paul Antonell at the helm at the Clubhouse Recording Studio in Rhinebeck, NY.

I approached these songs as a songwriter, searching for the first vocal performances of each to assure that the melodies, lyrics and harmony were intact – and as close as possible to the author’s original intent. It’s an honor to sing a song that spans 75-plus years. Kind of an ancestral project in a sense. Setting out with this intention certainly brought new meaning to these old songs.

A concert to launch the album is being planned for 8/31 at the Rockwood Music Hall’s  2nd stage. It’s their concert ‘hall’. Our performance will begin at 8:00pm.  I have decided to make the door charge a donation only, making it affordable for everyone who wishes to come.   I’m happy to be able to offer this to my fans on this very special occasion.

Prior to the release, I’m traveling to the West Coast where I’ll be performing several concerts before launching the first songwriting program called ‘The Songwriter Track’ at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in Palo Alto, CA.   Follow the links below for tickets or information to register for any of my classes.

See you.

– Rebecca Martin

Friday, July 30th, 2010
7:30pm
House Concert
The Shelton’s
625 Sexton Road
Sebastopol, CA.  95472
For more information, contact Ernie at: eshelton@sonic.net

Saturday, July 31st, 2010
Campbell Recital Hall
8:00pm
Featuring Rebecca w/Steve Cardenas (Guitar), Larry Goldings (Piano) and Larry Grenadier (Bass)

August 1st – 6th, 2010
Stanford Jazz Workshop
The Songwriter Track

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
7:00pm Doors
8:00pm Showtime

The Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2)
RECORD RELEASE  “When I Was Long Ago” (Sunnyside Records)
Featuring Rebecca, Larry Grenadier and Bill McHenry

Rebecca Launches New Songwriting Program at the Stanford Jazz Workshop

Rebecca has been invited to join the crew at the Stanford Jazz Workshop this summer – where she will launch “The Songwriter Track’. This will make her the first singer/songwriter to be a part of their prestigious program.

“Singer-songwriter Rebecca Martin guides students through the often-personal process of writing your own songs in this two hour class, which will be offered twice daily for three days during Jazz Residency week. It is scheduled such that anybody can attend, and is open to all singers and instrumentalists, at all levels. Students will have a chance to workshop their original songs with Rebecca and other students, and will explore the inextricable link between lyrics, melody, and storytelling in an inviting, hands-on workshop environment. Participants are encouraged to bring original songs and lyrics, but even those who are new to the process of songwriting will find plenty of inspiration and direction. So whether you’re a beginning songwriter, or have specific material you’d like to develop, the Songwriter track will give you a better handle on songwriting structure and process.

Follow this LINK to learn more and to register.

James Farber on the Making of the New Rebecca Martin Album

Rebecca Martin and James Farber. c 2010 Todd Chalfant (all rights reserved)

It was determined before the session that all three musicians (voice, bass, and saxophone) would play in the Clubhouse’s main room, and that I would mix live to 2-track, with a multi-track backup. I also knew that I would record Rebecca’s voice with the RCA KU-3A ribbon microphone. This is the same mic used, with excellent results, to record Rebecca on her previous album, “The Growing Season”, which was also recorded at the Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, NY. The KU-3A, also sometimes referred to, because of it’s shape, as the “Shoe Mic”, is a rare and special ribbon microphone. Originally designed for film sound, the microphone, unlike other ribbon mics, employs a cardiod (unidirectional) pickup pattern and has an extended high frequency response, with a “silky” sound which produces none of the sibilance associated with condenser mics. At the risk of getting too geeky here in the first paragraph, if you’re interested, you can read more about (and look at) the KU-3A, HERE.

Since, amazingly, the Clubhouse actually has 2 [!] Shoe mics, I decided to use the other one for Bill’s saxophone. In keeping with the desired vintage sound, which seemed appropriate given the material, for Larry’s bass, I chose yet another ribbon mic: an AEA model designed along the lines of the classic RCA 44, but with much higher gain and, therefore, much quieter. I also set up 2 pairs of ambient room mics – one close and one far. However, since the Clubhouse room was quite live, only a minimal amount of these mics was used in the mix.

Prior to the actual session, I actually wondered if it might be possible to record the group with just these stereo pairs of room microphones. But, upon hearing the natural balance of the musicians in the room, it instantly became apparent that the voice was so much softer than the bass or saxophone, and that close miking would be necessary to achieve a musical balance.

The musicians set up in a semi-circle, as if on a stage, not too far apart from each other, with no baffles between them. When facing the band, from L>R were the voice, bass, saxophone. It was this stage image which is reflected in the mix. Mixing the voice to the Left, is highly unusual (if not daring), but seemed to work well in this context and (at least to us) did not seem strange, gimmicky, or distracting.

The Clubhouse room is quite live, so little reverb (an EMT plate) was needed in the mix. The bass had none, the saxophone a little bit, and the voice a little more. Because Rebecca’s voice was the softest element, and did not “excite” the room by leaking into the other mics, at the beginning of the session it seemed a bit close and dry in comparison to the bass and saxophone. Clubhouse owner/engineer Paul Antonell then suggested a solution to bring the voice “into the room”. He set up a live echo chamber in a tiled bathroom. I sent the voice into the chamber and miked it with, you guessed it, another ribbon mic, and added that back into the mix.

More info about the gear …
The centerpiece of the Clubhouse is it’s Neve 8058 Console, with it’s fabulous 31102 preamps. Minimal EQ was used only on the voice. The voice was also compressed with an LA-3, and an Alan Smart stereo compressor was used on the mix. Protools HD was used for the recording, clocked by an Apogee Big Ben. The ADC used for the original live mixes was the Universal Audio UA2192. The file format was 24 Bit – 88.2 KHz.

After the first 2 days of recording, upon listening to all the takes, Rebecca felt that she could improve her performance on some of the tunes, so she, Larry and Bill went back into to the Clubhouse for a 3rd day of recording with Paul engineering. Paul, fortunately, had documented my setup and came pretty close to replicating the sound of the original recording. I then returned to the Clubhouse and remixed Paul’s tracks so, what’s on the final album is a combination of my original live mixes and some remixes. Expert mastering engineer, Greg Calbi, applied the finishing touches as he brought the 2 sessions into the same world.

There you have it. Now enjoy the record of these songs you know (and some you might not).

James Farber, Engineer