BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Autumn In New York”

This battle was inspired by Monday’s Music Moves Me about three weeks ago, where our very own Cathy set the theme of autumn. A couple of people, myself included, used this song in their playlists, which gave me the idea.

“Autumn In New York” was written by Vernon Duke back in 1934. While it wasn’t written as a song for a specific show or musical, it was included in the short-lived musical Thumbs Up! in 1935. It’s regarded as a jazz standard, but the only singer that’s had any chart success with it is Frank Sinatra, whose rendition reached #27 in 1949. Here’s the Chairman of the Board (who isn’t competing today, so please don’t vote for him).

Instrumental and vocal versions have been recorded over the years. Today’s battle is between two lovely chanteuses, one who I just heard of when putting this battle together, another who’s an old favorite.

Kimiko Itoh I hadn’t heard of Kimiko Itoh until putting this battle together. She’s a Japanese jazz singer who recorded her first album in 1982. This is from her 1996 album, Standards My Way.

By the way, the woman pictured in the video apparently is not Itoh-san, although she is also quite lovely:

source: Discogs

Jo Stafford One of my favorite singers, I’ve featured Jo Stafford a few times, although I’m pretty sure never in a Battle of the Bands. “Autumn In New York” was the title track from her 1950 album, which she recorded with Paul Weston & His Orchestra.

Now it’s up to you: listen to these versions of “Autumn In New York,” decide whether Ms. Itoh or Ms. Stafford did a better version of it, and vote by leaving a comment below, telling me which version reigns supreme and a few words on why you liked it. Then, if you’d be so kind, go visit Stephen, who is the host for BotB, vote in the Battle he has there, then visit the other BotB participants (the list is at the bottom of the right-hand column on Stephen’s page) and vote in those battles as well.

I’ll announce the winner of this Battle next Monday, October 22, so be sure and cast your vote by then, preferably no later than Saturday night. The lines are now open. Best of luck to Itoh-san and Ms. Stafford!

20 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Autumn In New York”

  1. I couldn’t play Kimiko’s recording here so I went to YouTube and listened there. Why would they place someone else’s picture on the front?? Kind of silly , I think. I am giving this challenge to Jo because her voice is so rich and it just lends an air of whistfulness with strength which seems to work well with this song.

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  2. I like when Sinatra seems these types of songs–like tone poems in a sense.

    The ladies don’t match Sinatra’s version, but they both do a fine job.

    Jo Stafford captures the poetic quality best I think, though the sax in Komiko’s version is nice. But not nice enough to give her my vote. I prefer that decidedly fifties orchestration sound of Jo Stafford with the great Paul Weston.

    A vote for Jo Stafford.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  3. Both very good. Also kind of similar. Probably for sentimental reasons I vote for Jo Stafford. I like the pure, no gimmicks singers.

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  4. There’s no way that can be a picture of Kimiko Itoh. Wackypedia sez she was born in 1946, and that jacket the street urchin is wearing looks very 1980s to me. If we say the photo was taken as early as ’80, then that would mean the gal in the photo (if it were Itoh) is 34. Nope. No way.

    Anyhow, onto more important topics…

    Yeah, I liked the instrumental aspect of the Itoh version, and she has a nice voice, but I didn’t care for the style too much. It’s that sort of — I don’t really know how to describe it — but it’s a kind “Stop / Start, Zig / Zag” vocal approach that, to my ears, anyway, tends to dissolve the melody into something unrecognizable and makes every song sound similar. Not sure if that description will resonate with anyone else. Maybe it’s just me.

    I’ll go with JO STAFFORD on this one. It’s that very traditional style of singing with that classic instrumental approach (’40s, ’50s), such as Lee noted. It’s like a blast to the past – a more simple time, which I appreciate.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    STMcC Presents ‘Battle Of The Bands’

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        1. JOHN, I just looked into it a little further and I’m thinking that might possibly be a young Nina Hagen:

          http://www.einfach-nina.de/promo27.html

          She also has an album titled ‘My Way’ (which could be responsible for the photo mix-up) and I found several photos indicating that she liked to pose with a cigarette sticking out of the center of her mouth, similar to that photo in the video.

          I wouldn’t bet my entire Donald Trump bubble gum card collection that it’s a young Nina Hagen, but I suspect it may be.

          ~ Columbo DogG
          STMcC Presents ‘Battle Of The Bands’

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  5. This is quite the dreamy song. I don’t know that I have heard it before, but I can’t say for certain.

    Both versions were lovely to me, but I really enjoyed Kimiko Itoh’s a little tiny bit more. My vote goes to her.

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  6. Hi John,
    This is a great battle with two very evenly matched contenders, in my opinion. I truly like both…and now listening for second time to each, I have to say this is an absolutely perfect way to end my day. I can go to bed happy now…
    The version that most grabbed hold of me is that of Kimiko Itoh’s. Her vocals blend so beautifully with the saxophone. And you know me, I love good sax…
    Please give my vote to Kimiko.

    PS: re: the album cover: When I first saw the cover, I thought, “Wow, is that her? She doesn’t look like a jazz singer” and then I thought “How odd that a singer would smoke.” But what do I know. I quit smoking over 20 years ago, back in 1996. I went to google to find some images for Miss Itoh and it’s definitely not her on the cover. The cover is called “Follow Me”, isn’t it? It’s a great photograph for the title, I think. Maybe that’s why that girl is on the cover. I bet someone will find the answer. If I weren’t heading to bed immediately after publishing this comment I’d take the time to try to find out… Perhaps tomorrow I’ll dig around and see what I can find…

    Excellent battle with a timeless song. Autumn in New York…how I miss it so!

    Have a great week,

    Michele at Angels Bark

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  7. John,

    I’m glad I inspired your pick of a battle song this round. “Autumn in New York” has a lovely flow mewsically and lyrically. I enjoyed all three artists. Jo Stafford has a classy, sultry appeal. Kimikoh’s jazzy, modern sound with the sexy sax is nice. The warmth in Frank Sinatra rendition transports me to New York where I’m wearing a heavy sweater and strolling through Central Park with a hot cup of coffee in hand. My vote goes to Ol’ Blue Eyes again. Yep, I went with Sinatra in Stephen’s battle, too. Did you boys plan this? 🙂

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    1. No plan on Stephen’s and my part. In fact, I just put Frank’s version of the song (what many people consider to be the definitive one) there as an example; the real battle is between Ms. Stafford and Itoh-san. Sorry that wasn’t clear. Of the two ladies, which do you prefer?

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