Sometime in the early 90s, while mining the vast library of jazz and standard songs for new material, I was struck by how many of them were inspired by spring. As I was always a bit in love with the season myself, I thought why not gather an evening’s worth of spring songs to perform in celebration of the vernal equinox? Thus began my tribute to springtime, which has since become a mostly annual tradition.
I enlisted my friend Denny Santos - a local radio host and obsessive collector of lesser known tunes sung by lesser known vocalists - to help with assembling a set list. As I poured over the contents of a homemade cassette tape culled from the stacks of records in his small apartment, I narrowed his selections down to a unique group of songs.
Over the years that set list changed. I added new tunes and discarded others. Those chosen for this album by no means comprise the definitive jazz lover’s guide to spring songs. They just happen to be twelve of my favorites.
Some are timeless standards; others as rare as the jade vine. The title cut It’s Anybody’s Spring, a populist anthem from Bob Hope’s 1946 movie “Road to Utopia,” is keenly in tune with the Main Street vs. Wall Street debates of today, while After All It’s Spring (from the songwriting duo that brought us “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”) has a sweetness and an aching pastoral innocence sadly absent from our modern sensibilities.
Blossom Dearie favorite, Bob Haymes, wrote the cleverly defiant They Say It’s Spring, and Hayme’s own recording of that song provided me the “lost” alternate lyrics on the out-chorus bridge. I found the devastating Spring Isn’t Everything (not lost, but in hiding) on a wonderful Maxine Sullivan album. Her accompanist was Loonis McGlohon - known for his collaborations with Alec Wilder (While We’re Young.) Coincidentally, McGlohon also penned the lyric to the album’s newest song and instant standard: Spring Sprang Sprung, composed by our good friend and drummer par excellence, Jim Zimmerman.
The easy connectivity of this repertoire mirrors the relaxed interaction of the musicians on this session, who conversed in an improvisational dialogue that was unforced and intuitive. Their vibrant musical settings allowed me to bring these songs into new light - and shed a ray of sun on their secret garden.
Whether brightly familiar or freshly unearthed from a winter’s frost, these are above all songs of love. They resonate with the power of springtime: its abundance of beauty, seductiveness, and even cruelty… reminding us that the regenerative force of nature and music can also inspire a blossoming from within.
— Sherri Roberts, December 2016,
San Francisco, CA