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My Favorite Things at 50

From: Robin Washington
Length: 29:22

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October 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of the release of John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things." You can continue to celebrate it with this exploration of how the Broadway tune became a quintessential jazz classic. For general audiences and jazz fans alike.

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My Favorite Things at 50

Winner of the National Association of Black Journalists 2011 Radio Documentary Award (network).

Everyone knows "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music" - and a good number know John Coltrane's jazz treatment of it, even if they don't think they know it.

Recorded 50 years ago on Oct. 21, 1960 and released in March 1961, Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" stands as one of the most accessible serious jazz works. This program, geared toward a general audience but also highly informative for jazz aficionados, traces the lineage of the Rodgers and Hammerstein song from the Broadway stage, where it was sung by Mary Martin, to Coltrane's adaptation of it from sheet music given to him at a New York jazz club.

Along the way we hear a rare recording of the Von Trapp Family themselves singing it, several very different versions by Coltrane, inheritors such as Outkast, and of course Julie Andrews, whose more famous rendition followed Coltrane's recording by five years - evoking the obvious question: Did he influence her?

Coltrane's early musical development and his own influences, from Thelonius Monk to Miles Davis, are explored. We also hear Coltrane in his own words, as well as new interviews with McCoy Tyner - one of the greatest jazz pianists ever and the last surviving member of the John Coltrane Quartet - and earlier Coltrane sideman Steve Kuhn. Harvard University jazz scholar Ingrid Monson and Jazz Heritage Society executive director Peter Fitzsimmons are also featured.

The project is a labor of love and gift to all stations from longtime NPR contributor Robin Washington (News & Notes, Crossroads), who is also the editor of a daily newspaper, Minnesota's Duluth News Tribune.

"Coltrane had more significant works, surely. 'A Love Supreme' readily comes to mind," Washington says. "But if you tried to explain that song to an average listener, you would lose them. Here is a definitive work that everyone knows and anyone can listen to, and the fascinating story of its evolution is something everyone can share, and enjoy."

Piece Description

My Favorite Things at 50

Winner of the National Association of Black Journalists 2011 Radio Documentary Award (network).

Everyone knows "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music" - and a good number know John Coltrane's jazz treatment of it, even if they don't think they know it.

Recorded 50 years ago on Oct. 21, 1960 and released in March 1961, Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" stands as one of the most accessible serious jazz works. This program, geared toward a general audience but also highly informative for jazz aficionados, traces the lineage of the Rodgers and Hammerstein song from the Broadway stage, where it was sung by Mary Martin, to Coltrane's adaptation of it from sheet music given to him at a New York jazz club.

Along the way we hear a rare recording of the Von Trapp Family themselves singing it, several very different versions by Coltrane, inheritors such as Outkast, and of course Julie Andrews, whose more famous rendition followed Coltrane's recording by five years - evoking the obvious question: Did he influence her?

Coltrane's early musical development and his own influences, from Thelonius Monk to Miles Davis, are explored. We also hear Coltrane in his own words, as well as new interviews with McCoy Tyner - one of the greatest jazz pianists ever and the last surviving member of the John Coltrane Quartet - and earlier Coltrane sideman Steve Kuhn. Harvard University jazz scholar Ingrid Monson and Jazz Heritage Society executive director Peter Fitzsimmons are also featured.

The project is a labor of love and gift to all stations from longtime NPR contributor Robin Washington (News & Notes, Crossroads), who is also the editor of a daily newspaper, Minnesota's Duluth News Tribune.

"Coltrane had more significant works, surely. 'A Love Supreme' readily comes to mind," Washington says. "But if you tried to explain that song to an average listener, you would lose them. Here is a definitive work that everyone knows and anyone can listen to, and the fascinating story of its evolution is something everyone can share, and enjoy."

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Turned me on to Jazz at the age of 16!

My Favorite Things is the tune that I heard at the age of 16 that made me a Jazz lover!Over 40 years ago.

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
My Favorite Things John Coltrane My Favorite Things. Atlantic 1961 15:56
My Favorite Things Julie Andrews / Original Cast /Rodgers and Hammerstein The Sound of Music. RCA Victor 1965 :53
Tally Ho John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie Complete Recordings With Dizzy Gillespie. Definitive 2003 :16
Coast to Coast John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie Complete Recordings With Dizzy Gillespie. Definitive 2003 :09
Ruby My Dear Thelonius Monk with John Coltrane The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings. Riverside 2006 :30
Monk's Mood (False Start) Thelonius Monk with John Coltrane The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings. Riverside 2006 :25
So What Miles Davis Kind of Blue. Columbia 1959 :59
My Favorite Things Mary Martin/Original Broadway Cast The Sound of Music. Columbia 1959 :40
My Favorite Things The Trapp Family Singers The Sound of Music. RCA Victor 1959 :34
Naima Steve Kuhn Private recording. 2010 :40
The Blessing John Coltrane and Don Cherry Avant-Garde. Atlantic 1990 :24
Rasd (Damascus) Field Musicians Ecstatic Dances of the Whirling and Howling Dervishes of Turkey and Syria. Arc 2010 :12
My Favorite Things (Live) John Coltrane Live Trane: The European Tours. Pablo 2001 :44
Chim Chim Cheree John Coltrane The John Coltrane Quartet Plays. Impulse 1965 :55
The Things We Like Best Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett Julie & Carol at Carnegie Hall . Columbia Masterworks 1962 :45
My Favorite Things John Coltrane and Archie Shepp New Thing at Newport. Impulse 1965 :36
My Favorite Things Outkast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. La Face 2003 :15
A Love Supreme Part 1: Acknowledgement John Coltrane A Love Supreme. Impulse 1965 :32