Song of the Day #1041
Song of the Day: Birdland was composed by Joe Zawinul, the keyboardist of the jazz-fusion group Weather Report, which recorded it for their seventh studio album, "Heavy Weather" (1977). Named after one of the great 52nd Street jazz clubs in New York City, which took its name from the nickname of be bop pioneer, alto saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker, it became a landmark Grammy-nominated jazz-fusion track. But the Grammy Award went to The Manhattan Transfer a few years later, for their jazz vocalese version of the celebrated track. The lyrics for the track were written by Jon Hendricks (of the always-fascinating vocalese group, Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross), though Eddie Jefferson had started writing lyrics for the piece before his untimely death. The Manhattan Transfer version appears on my favorite album of theirs: "Extensions." And the album is dedicated to Jefferson. In 1980, they received Grammy Awards for Best Jazz/Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental for "Birdland" and for Janis Siegel for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices, for the same recording. Check out the original instrumental classic by Weather Report and the equally classic vocalese version by The Manhattan Transfer [YouTube links].