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Oh! Lady Be Good – 1924

This was a requested arrangement – and I had a blast writing it. I added two pages at the end – to “goose” up the arrangement – BUT I want you to take a long hard look at the added pages and PLEASE see what I did to embellish it. AND these tricks can be applied to other songs you want to enhance.

Link – Lady Be Good arr by Shelia wObbligato

Here is a quote from K. J. McElrath – Musicologist for JazzStandards.com

Musical analysis of “Oh, Lady Be Good!”

Original Key G major
Form A-A-B-A
Tonality Major throughout; very brief passage in E minor in mm. 5-6 of the “B” section
Movement A balance of step-wise and skips moves primarily downward, followed by large (6th and octave) leaps upward.
A playful tune, originally played “slow and gracefully” (Gershwin’s tempo marking), it lends itself to a wide variety of treatments and tempos. This tune is not particularly difficult for instrumentalists as the chord progressions are quite standard and follow all accepted rules of voice leading–in short, no surprises. The arpeggiated melodic passages clearly outline the harmony underneath–the only “non-chord tone” that appears with any frequency is the 6th. Inexperienced vocalists may find the wide leaps a bit intimidating at first, but since they are all chord tones, they should pose no insurmountable challenges. The best suggestion is to simply have fun with this tune, keeping tongue firmly in cheek.

Listen Upbeat Version – Benny Goodmanhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEvsWBMVwlM

  • Listen for the piano echo of melody line
  • The straight forward even quarter note bass line – you could almost play bass and chord together to get the effect!

Listen to Ballad Version – Ella Fitzgeraldhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21P0FX1vGmU

  • She sings the prelude part
  • At the refrain – you can hardly hear the bass line!!!
  • Listen to the strings and see the simple chord movement at long notes and phrase endings
  • This is the tempo that Gershwin marked on his original music

WOW – Listen to Ella SWING IThttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVBhDxnqGlE

About the Song:

Walter Catlett introduced “Oh, Lady Be Good!” on the stage of the Liberty Theater December 1st 1924. The song was included in the Broadway Musical Lady, Be Good! a popular show that would run for 330 performances.

In 1925 “Oh, Lady Be Good!” went on to become a pop chart hit three times with

  • Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra (1925, instrumental, #2)
  • Carl Fenton and his Orchestra (1925, instrumental, #9)
  • Cliff Edwards (1925, #13)

A 1947 recording of the song became a hit for Ella Fitzgerald, notable for her scat solo. The song became identified with Fitzgerald, and she sang it many times in live performance.