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Jonathan & Darlene Edwards - Piano Artistry Of Jonathan Edwards 1957

On: Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jonathan Edwards (Paul Weston)
Paul Wetstein
Mar 12 1912 – Sep 20 1996 age 83
Official Site

Darlene Edwards (Jo Stafford)
Jo Elizabeth Stafford
Nov 12 1917 – Jul 16 2008 age 90

Through the 1940s and the 1950s, Jo Stafford was best known for her rich, warm voice and her laid back, easy, even wistful delivery of jazz standards and big band classics. Stafford was one of a very few jazz vocalists who had classical vocal training, and one of an even smaller number who had “perfect pitch”—the rare ability to identify or find any note without help from an instrument. Yet in the late 1950s, Stafford and her husband, arranger and pianist Paul Weston, recorded a series of albums that were intentionally and deliberately downright awful.
 In 1957, Stafford and Weston recorded an album entitled, “Jo Stafford and Paul Weston Present: The Original Piano Artistry of Jonathan Edwards, Vocals by Darlene Edwards.” Stafford and Weston claimed that the Edwards were a New Jersey lounge act that they discovered. Vocalist “Darlene” was consistently at least one-quarter step out of tune; pianist “Jonathan” couldn’t keep time. The album was such a success that they followed up with an album of standards featuring the same level of (non) artistry. This second album was a huge commercial success. In 1961, the “Edwards” recorded a third album, Jonathan and Darlene Edwards in Paris, which won a Grammy Award—for best comedy album! Incidentally, it appears that it was some time (presumably between their first and second album) that Weston and Stafford actually owned up to being “Jonathan” and “Darlene.”
So how does this relate to innovation? Jo Stafford and Paul Weston weren’t afraid of failure. They had spent time and money in the studio recording their album. They had in fact done the Jonathan and Darlene act to entertain close friends at small parties, so they took a calculated risk. Second, they did something “bad” very well. As a musician, I can tell that it takes tremendous skill—and nerve—to perform consistently badly in a way that is consistently funny. 
Ultimately, Stafford and Weston did something that had never been done before: musical parody based on performance. Before “Jonathan and Darlene Edwards” there was Florence Foster Jenkins, an operatic wannabe who sang recitals dressed in angel’s wings. But Jenkins took herself very seriously and thought she was a great singer. Stafford and Weston combined skill, art, and took a calculated risk that has kept and will keep thousands entertained for years. 

— Excerpt Joel Kleinbaum 

01 It Might As Well Be Spring
02 Poor Butterfly
03 Autumn In New York
04 Nola
05 Stardust
06 It's Magic
07 Sunday, Monday Or Always
08 Jealousy
09 Cocktails For Two
10 Dizzy Fingers
11 Three Coins In The Fountain
12 You're Blase 

Corinthian Cor-104

Musical Parody
Thanks furrball!

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