We haven’t had a Fantastic Foursome for a while, so maybe I should explain the idea for those newer visitors who haven’t run across it before. It’s a recurring special feature that spotlights a particular song, and then offers the chance to listen to four different versions and vote for your favorite.
The song we’re featuring today is not only appropriate to the season, but also offers a lot of choices for the four candidates — it’s estimated to have been recorded over 25,000 times. Beginning as a song written for Gershwin’s 1935 folk opera Porgy and Bess, “Summertime” has become everything from a jazz standard to a pop favorite.
The best-known early versions included Gershwin’s own, with a vocal by Abbie Mitchell (video below) and Billie Holiday’s, which was the first to hit the record charts in a big way. In later years, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, and other jazz stars had notable success with the song, and it eventually became popular with modern performers like The Marcels, the Zombies, and Billy Stewart, whose wild, revamped rendition became the best-selling record of all.
You can try four different versions below. Billy Stewart – Charlie Parker – Oscar Peterson – Zombies