When I heard of the death of Stephen Sondheim at the age of 91, I knew one of his songs would be featured on the next Friday Cocktail Hour.
I had hoped to post a song that Sondheim had written both the words and music. It was a heavy lift because they’re not many first rate instrumental versions of those songs. Instead I landed on Tonight, which Sondheim wrote with Leonard Bernstein for West Side Story.
West Side Story was a phenomenon in its day as a play, movie, and record. Many artists covered songs from it, especially Tonight.
We begin with the great Billy Eckstine:
I’ve always liked Nancy Wilson but writing this feature has made me appreciate her work even more:
The Drifters brought their doo-wop touch to the Sondheim-Bernstein show tune.
In 1996, Wynonna Judd and Kenny Loggins recorded The Songs Of West Side Story. Here’s their take on Tonight:
Finally, the weirdest version of all, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and Patti LuPone:
What would a Friday Cocktail Hour be without a jazz instrumental of the featured song? This time, my fellow San Mateo High School Bearcat Cal Tjader followed by Oscar Peterson.
Have I told you lately how much I love Oscar Peterson?
That’s it for this week. I propose a toast in celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s long and eventful life. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.