Friday, July 10, 2009

For a Song: Java Jive

The Manhattan Transfer: Java Jive


When I was in high school I finally found a musical outlet: singing. I had tried a number of musical instruments, but I didn’t stick with any of them. But I did enjoy singing Gilbert and Sullivan in the shower. In my sophomore year of high school, men’s chorus was a handy way to get out of homeroom. I was actually a pretty good singer, apparently. The leader of the men’s chorus also taught choir and Schola Cantorum, our high school’s elite chamber choir. This teacher practically begged me to join choir the following year. That went well enough that I reupped for my senior year.

I’ve mentioned that singing was originally a way to get out of homeroom, but in my senior year, something even more remarkable happened. Half way through the year, one of the basses in Schola Cantorum broke his leg skiing, and was going to be unable to perform for the rest of the year. So they needed a bass. Now, I hadn’t tried for Schola Cantorum that year for two reasons: one, I didn’t think I was good enough: and two, I had a required class scheduled for that period, and no place else to put it. So, I was very surprised when my choir teacher asked me to join at mid-year. When I explained my schedule conflict, he went behind the scenes and got me excused from my required class for the rest of the year. So, for the rest of the year, I got to sing with the best, and as a bonus, I got out of gym. I couldn’t have been happier.

The first song we worked on was Java Jive. As you can probably hear, this song is a lot of fun to sing. I wanted to track down a recording of it as soon as possible, and this one by the Manhattan Transfer, is the one I found. Later I learned that the original version was a hit for the Ink Spots. I can also recommend newer versions by Richard Thompson and the Puppini Sisters.

The funny thing for me about Java Jive is that I love the song, but I don’t like coffee.


Ralph said...

Fun stuff!