Pollen is in the air and so is spring, which means renewal and even some green grass and historic desert blooms here in Southern California. To celebrate the first day of spring as well as the Persian new year – Nowruz – I’ve compiled a spring fever playlist for your enjoyment. Spring is my favorite time of year and I just want the time to slow down before summer heat arrives. I also feel a burst of joy hearing songbirds chirping at the beginning of mating season. It’s a joyful time of year in most places around the world. Here are some musical selections to usher in the new season.
1. “Aguas de Marco (Waters of March)” by Elis Regina and Antonio Carlos Jobim: A classic from Brazilian greats, vocalist Elis Regina, a treasure for Brazilian music lovers, with this paean to March by Jobim. The lyrics sound great in both Portuguese and English. Jobim was always interested in other languages, so when creating the English version of his original Portuguese lyrics, he cultivated his language skills by using only equivalent English words that had anglo-saxon (not Latin) roots—“a stick, a stone, it’s the end of the road.” (Thanks to my Jobim maven John Scott for this little piece of 411.)
2. “You Must Believe in Spring” by Tierney Sutton and Serge Merlaud: This great song was penned by prolific French composer Michel Legrand, who worked with Miles Davis, led a superb big band, and wrote soundtracks, including the musical Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (Umbrellas of Cherbourg), The Thomas Crown Affair, and others gems.
3. “Up Jumped Spring” by Freddie Hubbard: From Freddie Hubbard’s 1967 album Backlash. Flute solo courtesy of James Spaulding, piano by Albert Dailey.
4. “No. 3 Primavera porteña” by Astor Piazzolla (composer) and Daniel Barenboim (piano): A song about spring in Buenos Aires which, being in the Southern Hemisphere, happens beginning September 21st, but that’s okay with me.
5. “Nowrouz – New Year” by Sima Bina: Nowrouz is Persian new year, which coincides with the start of spring. Nowruz celebrates rebirth and renewal, and the Earth’s birthday as well. I like this version by a folksinger from the South Khorassan region of Iran named Sima Bina. (And BTW, March 21st is Bahá’í New Year).
6. “Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons – Spring 1” by Max Richter and Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin: An interesting new take on the Vivaldi classic by this German-born, now Britain-based composer.
7. “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” by Betty Carter: Written by Tommy Wolf (music) and Fran Landesman (lyrics), I love this version by Betty Carter, who never quite got the attention she richly deserved.
8. “I’ll Remember April” by Yusef Lateef: Written in 1942 by composer Gene de Paul, I love Yusef’s flute version of this song from the 1961 Prestige album Into Something.
9. “April in Paris” by Kurt Elling: Russian composer Vladimir Dukelsky, better known as Vernon Duke, wrote this evergreen long ago. I love Kurt’s style, so I picked this recording. The best-known version is probably by the Count Basie Orchestra.
10. “Fever” by La Lupe: A Cuban rendition of the Little Willie John song, better known from Peggy Lee’s recording. La Lupe was a fiery, theatrical singer with a strong dose of Cuban flavor.