I could go on and on about this week’s entry. It was written in 1928 by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill for their musical, The Threepenny Opera. Its original German title was Die Moritat von Mackie Messer or The Ballad of Mack the Knife.
In 1954, Marc Blitzstein translated the lyrics of this Teutonic murder ballad into English. I was acquainted with his grandson who was the friend of a friend.
We begin with the original German version as sung by Lotte Lenya who was married to composer Kurt Weill twice. I am not making this up. Lenya and Weill are the staring couple starring in the featured image.
What’s a Friday Cocktail Hour without some Louis Armstrong; a man who people in both New Orleans and Queens can call their homey:
Walden Robert Cassotto DBA Bobby Darin had the biggest radio hit with the Brecht, Weill, and Blitzstein classic.
Here’s the legendary live version by Ella Fitzgerald in which she made a glorious mess of the lyrics. And in Berlin of all places.
Sting cut his version of The Ballad Of Mack The Knife for a 1985 Kurt Weill tribute album.
Quiz Show is one of my favorite films. Lyle Lovett is one of my favorite artists. The two converged with this 1994 version of Moritat.
Finally, everyone’s favorite screen villain Christopher Lee recorded this week’s song in German.
What would a Friday Cocktail Hour be without a jazz instrumental version of the week’s tune? This time, the great saxophonist Wayne Shorter followed by Oscar Peterson with Clark Terry on trumpet.
Have I told you lately how much I love Oscar Peterson? That goes for Wayne Shorter as well.
That’s it for this week. Grab a beer and toast Brecht, Weill, and Blitzstein. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.