Ostrich Ferns & Autumn LeavesWednesday, September 23, 2009
I wrote about Nan Fairchild Sherlock & Matteuccia struthiopteris here. I remembered here this afternoon as I was walking in the garden. Rosemary was crawling on her bum with the special boot on her left ankle to keep it in place. We were cutting back stuff and deciding which plants I am going to have to move. I noticed that one of my ostrich ferns (the botanical name is the one above!) had fronds that were dried out and how beautiful they were. I also noticed that like most of my ostrich ferns this one had the handsome almost black fertile fronds (see link above) in the middle that came out at about this time. I cut some of the dried out fronds to scan them and as I was bringing them in I thought of the fall jazz standard Autum Leaves and how Hilary’s godfather, Raúl Guerrero Montemayor would often tell me that this perennial jazz standard was not always so. It had been composed for a film with Yves Montand who introduced the song Les Feuilles Mortes in the 1946 film Les Portes De La Nuit, a gloomy urban drama set in post World War II Paris. Raúl would further tell me that the composer Joseph Kosma was Hungarian and that Jacques Prevert created one of the songs for Les Portes De La Nuit by setting a Prevert poem to music, “Les Feuilles Mortes.” In 1949 Johnny Mercer wrote English lyrics for the tune changing the original French title to Autumn Leaves.
I believe that this standard is best played on a keyboard but I have a memory of another recording which has always been my favourite. Here it is. And if you don't believe everything you read on the web you might note that the instrument that Chet Baker is playing here is not a trumpet. It certainly looks like a flugelhorn to me.