BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “How High The Moon”

Back again, and again a day late, with the next installment of Battle of the Bands. Today’s battle features the jazz standard “How High The Moon,” which was written by Nancy Hamilton (lyrics) and Morgan Lewis (music). First recorded by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra in 1940, it’s been done many, many times since, both as a vocal and an instrumental. Wikipedia tells us that Charlie Parker adapted the chord changes in the song to write his tune “Ornithology,” and many musicians (among them Lionel Hampton and Ella Fitzgerald) move between the two songs seamlessly. It’s a favorite among gypsy jazz bands, such as The Quintette du Hot Club de France, led by Django Reinhardt. The best-known version was done by Les Paul & Mary Ford in the early 1950’s.

Today we have a battle between two lovely chanteuses from the ’50’s.

June Christy June’s one of my favorite singers from this era, and here she’s backed by The Nat King Cole Trio with Mel Tormé on the drums.

Lola Albright Lola Albright, you might remember, starred on Peter Gunn as the nightclub singer (and love interest for Peter) Edie Hart. Here she is from an episode of that show, with a combo featuring Shorty Rogers on flugelhorn.

So, here’s what I’d like you to do: listen to both videos, decide which of the two versions of the song you like best, and leave a comment for me letting me know which you prefer in the comments, with maybe an indication as to why you like that one better. Then, visit the other folks doing Battles of the Bands today and vote in their battles:

On Friday, March 22, I’ll count the votes and let you know who the winner is, so be sure and vote by then.

The lines are now open. Best of luck to Ms. Christy and Ms. Albright!

14 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “How High The Moon”

  1. Oooh, what Lola wants, Lola gets….LIKE MY VOTE!

    I agree that I’m not crazy about the tempo on the first one, though I do like Nat King Cole and Mel Tormer quite a bit.


  2. John,

    I preferred the slower tempo and horn intro of the second cover the best. I may as well like the vocals of Lola Albright better. Her cover made feel like I was in a smoky lounge. Can you hear me coughing? Now, I have to go launder my clothes. 🙂 Good battle!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll be dogged! I didn’t know Mel played drums.

    Well, I’m not the world’s most passionate guy
    But when I looked in her eyes
    I almost fell for my LOLA

    Yip! I much prefer this romantic song sung like a ballad.

    ~ Stephen

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, I remember Lola Albright and Peter Gunn. Goes back a long way. 🙂 Of the two versions, I preferred hers, for both vocals and arrangement. It was smoother, all around.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Like both of them. Never missed an episode of Peter Gunn. However, June Christy is an all-time favorite and you throw in Nat King Cole and PRESTO! – my choice is Jume Christy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The winner for me would have been Les Paul and Mary Ford–such a classic piece of work.

    The versions you offer are both good representations of that song as one might have heard from the fifties, although I doubt whether this song is performed very much. I haven’t heard any new versions that come to my mind.

    Both versions are very good. My vote goes to Lola and crew. I liked the weird reverb or whatever it is that makes it sound like the song was recorded through galvanized buckets or something. The band is excellent and I prefer the loping pace of this version over the more frantic sound of Nat’s band.

    Tough to choose but Lola is my choice. And whatever Lola wants…

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Definitely prefer the 2nd one. The first one’s tempo is too fast, and Mel Torme obviously wanted to grandstand with the drums over the piano. Not a good ensemble. The second one is at the right tempo and there is a stellar combo that works well together. I like the xylophone and the horn. The singer’s are both good, but overall the 2nd one is my choice.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.