19 November 2016


You may consider some sweet and sentimental tunes to be rather corny. However, I think it's a good idea to include at least one in any programme. Such tunes may not be characteristic of traditional jazz as a whole, but it is certainly true that they can work well and that audiences enjoy them.

One worth considering is Daddy's Little Girl.

First, you may care to spend a couple of minutes listening to Al Martino singing it at:

But then sample it being played (rather differently) by a jazz band in a YouTube video featuring the late Norman Thatcher on trumpet. This may be a grainy old film, but I think it demonstrates English traditional jazz at its very best: CLICK HERE TO VIEW IT.

Sadly, several of the musicians on that video have since died. But Dave Vickers - the trombonist - is still with us. I had the great privilege of playing alongside him in a telephone band recently. He told me that film of Daddy's Little Girl was made in the course of producing a CD of 13 tracks for the Jazz Crusade label in 1995. The musicians had been very proud of it, he said. There was no rehearsal and no retakes, and yet the music came out really well.

Daddy's Little Girl was a popular song composed in 1949 by Bobby Burke and Horace Gerlash. I think they did a remarkably good job of matching the words to the melody and rhythms.

Any man who has had the most wonderful and joyful experience of becoming the father of a baby girl can identify with the emotions expressed in this song. In fact, it can be a real tear-jerker.

Yes: it is full of clichés. Even the chord progressions are familiar and simple. (If you play Candy Lips, you may well find the chord progression is remarkably similar.) And yet these are the very things that give the tune universal appeal.

You're the end of the rainbow,
You're my pot of gold,
You're Daddy's little girl 
To have and to hold.
A precious gem - 
That's what you are.
You're Mummy's bright and shining star. 
You're the spirit of Christmas, 
My star on the tree, 
The Easter Bunny to Mummy and me. 
You're sugar and spice; 
You're everything nice. 
Your Daddy's little girl.

I think I would be most comfortable in F (though the Norman Thatcher Band in the video played it in Bb, and Al Martino sang it first in G and then modulated to Ab for the second time round). We should take it slowly and if possible include the vocal. As usual with my efforts, this lead sheet I arrived at may not be 100% correct but I think it gives us something to work on: