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ClassicsOnline Home » STRING FEVER: It don't mean a thing
Described as a ‘conductor who makes a difference’ (Daily Telegraph), and acclaimed for her artistic vision and commitment to accessibility in classical music, Marin Alsop founded String Fever in 1981. Its pioneering blend of jazz, pop and classical repertoire took critics and audiences by storm, breaking the boundaries between musical genres through remarkable versatility and a palpable sense of fun. This album reflects String Fever’s forays into standards ranging from Rogers and Hart’s early hit Manhattan to Dave Brubeck’s famously rhythmic Blue Rondo à la Turk.
It Don’t Mean A Thing
This album reflects our foray into the standards, recorded over a period of 15 years. Enormous thanks to all of the wonderful musicians who played in String Fever over the years. We had many adventures over our 20 year career together and String Fever will remain a source of great memories and musical achievement for all of us.
 It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) is a 1931 composition by Duke Ellington, with lyrics by Irving Mills. Probably the first song to use the phrase “swing” in the title, it introduced the term into everyday language and presaged the swing era by three years. This arrangement by Gary Anderson is based on a solo by one of our idols, jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, and features close harmony writing.
 Mood Indigo is a 1930 composition by Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard with lyrics by Irving Mills.The tune was composed for a radio broadcast in October 1930 and was originally titled Dreamy Blues. It was “the first tune I ever wrote specially for microphone transmission,” Ellington recalled. “The next day wads of mail came in raving about the new tune, so Irving Mills put a lyric to it.” and it was renamed “Mood Indigo,” This arrangement by George Bogatko focuses on the tune’s harmonic complexities and highlights the melancholy character of the song, featuring an extended group rubato section.
 My Heart Belongs to Daddy was written by Cole Porter, for the 1938 musical Leave It to Me! which premièred on Nov 9, 1938. This rousing arrangement by George Bogatko became one of our signature tunes, especially with so many women in String Fever!
 Liberated Brother was written by Horace Silver and arranged for String Fever by Chris Hewes. Liberated Brother let us embrace Latin rhythms, playing a variety of percussion instruments ourselves, and work out extended solos for violin and viola.
 Blue Rondo à la Turk was written by Dave Brubeck and first appeared on the album Time Out in 1959. It is written in 9/8 and swing 4/4. Brubeck heard the unusual “1-2/1- 2/1-2/1-2-3” rhythm performed by Turkish musicians on the street. Upon asking the musicians where they got the rhythm, one replied “This rhythm is to us, what the blues is to you.” Hence the title Blue Rondo à la Turk.
 Stompin’ at the Savoy is a 1934 jazz standard composed by Edgar Sampson. It is named after the Savoy Ballroom. Although the song is credited to Benny Goodman, Chick Webb, and Edgar Sampson, and the lyrics to Andy Razaf, in reality the music was written and arranged for Chick Webb’s band by Sampson, who was the band’s alto saxophonist. This arrangement by Gary Anderson, former member of Woody Herman’s band, is one of the first ever done for String Fever. Gary’s belief in me and the band were critical in our evolution and success.
 Come Rain or Come Shine was written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The song was written for the musical St. Louis Woman, and was published in 1946. This arrangement, by Gary Anderson, is a special favorite of mine, as it offered me the opportunity to solo on a very special tune with wonderful lyrics: “I’m gonna’ love you, like nobody loves you / Come rain or come shine.”
 In the Mood is one of the best-known arrangements of the big band era, a song popularized by the American bandleader Glenn Miller in 1939.. It was composed by Joe Garland and Andy Razaf and arranged by Miller, although the main theme had been previously heard. Miller’s rendition topped the charts in 1940 and one year later was featured in the movie Sun Valley. As string players we always got a charge out of the whoops and hollers as we launched into In the Mood! Many thanks to Richard Fiocca for his arrangement.
 Four Brothers: Woody Herman (May 16, 1913–October 29, 1987) was an American jazz clarinetist, alto and soprano saxophonist, singer, and big band leader. Leading various groups called “The Herd,” Herman was one of the most popular of the 1930s and ’40s bandleaders. In 1947, Herman organized the Second Herd. This band was also known as “The Four Brothers Band”. This derives from the song recorded December 27, 1947 for Columbia records, Four Brothers, written by Jimmy Giuffre. “The ‘Four Brothers’ chart is based on the chord changes of Jeepers Creepers, and features the three-tenor, one-baritone saxophone section. This high energy arrangement is by Gary Anderson, a former member of Woody’s Herd and features a string quartet in the role of the saxes.
 Manhattan Medley: This is the first set of arrangements written for String Fever. Gary Anderson took a leap of faith in writing for my new band, and I will always be grateful for his support, talent and generosity. We wanted the first music we played to represent us in every way possible and, the theme of Manhattan seemed the obvious connecting and identifying point. Manhattan was written by Richard Rodgers with words by Lorenz Hart for the 1925 revue Garrick Gaieties. The song describes, in several choruses, the simple delights of Manhattan for a young couple. One of Rodgers and Hart’s earliest hits, Rodgers later maintained it was the song that “made” them as a songwriting team. Lullaby of Broadway and 42nd Street are from the show 42nd Street, a 1933 musical with book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin, and music by Harry Warren.
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STRING FEVER: It don't mean a thing