POPular Intros, also called Verses for Vocal Standards

Show Tunes to Jazz Tunes - The Historic Crossover

Back in the day, Jazz music was THE POPular music. It played off of what the mainstream was into hence there was massive interplay between jazz and musical theater/motion pictures.

For example, My Funny Valentine was originally a show tune written for Rogers and Hart’s Babes in Arms musical which debuted 1937. The longevity of this song is due entirely to it’s crossover into the jazz world - as it’s been interpreted countless times by the greats of jazz. You many already know that many, many of our essential jazz standards come from this cross genre tradition - jazz musicians making standards out of show tunes originals.

But you might not be familiar with ALL the forgotten intros to some of the most popular jazz standards. These intros came from verses that were part of the original score written for the musical/movie for which the song was composed in the first place. It was common practice to use these verses as intros.

Example of My Funny Valentine’s Verse Intro

I’ve done a tutorial on one of these intros - for My Funny Valentine. Here is a video of Ella Fitzgerald’s version of My Funny Valentine with that very intro…

My Funny Valentine by Richard Rodger and Lorenz Hart

Reasons to Learn These Intros

This little intro is very easy to learn and a great way to make fresh again a very played out standard.

There are certain circles where you can gain a lot of street cred by knowing some of these intros…

#1 - Many Jazz vocalist like to add these intros

#2 - Hardcore jazzers at jazz jams - of any instrument - who are well versed in the history of jazz as well as all versions of tunes typically like playing intros for a change. Or at least appreciate the challenge on an otherwise very familiar tune.

#3 - Older audiences who lived the golden age of jazz and love to be reminded of it. (Albeit they won’t be around forever, playing at retirement communities is great joy and there’s a great demand. But that’s a story for another thread)

More Examples of POPular Jazz Vocal Intros

If I’ve peaked your interest, here’s few more intros made famous that you might already be familiar with…

Foggy Day by George and Ira Gershwin

https://youtu.be/ek1KFID0gSc - Fred Astaire, a clip from the 1937 Movie A Damsel in Distress

https://youtu.be/Jg66AV7T2So - Classic Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald

Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered - Rodgers and Hart

https://youtu.be/1fzZ4l2H5 - Ella Fitzgerald

https://youtu.be/f_IYAvaa8cU - Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga - in this rehearsal version she even visits the verse again mid song

https://youtu.be/U4F4OCBDogo - Sarah Vaughan

Get Started Here…

And there are many many more but here’s a great place to start. See the link below for My Funny Valentine Intro (Verse) Tutorial as well as the full tutorial for the piece.

Happy Practicing,


Thanks for sharing the info and examples Lyndol :+1:

Ella’s “My Funny Valentine” recording with the verse is great. I hadn’t heard that version before.

As you say in the MFV lessons it’s interesting how the verse is played/sung rather briskly, and then the tune performed down tempo. A lovely contrast.

I think for many of us playing solo piano, adding the intro/verse can also be a great way to extend the length of the performance and create a fuller sounding arrangement .

When I was arranging our solo piano lesson on “Someone To watch Over Me” one of our students sent me this lovely vocal rendition where the singer includes the verse:

This is another nice verse to learn and the additional lyrics really add to the story behind the tune.

Great stuff!


Wow, that’s beautiful. I hadn’t hear that one before, and totally does tell more of the story. I think I want to learn both the intro and the song now~

And yeah, I bet that would be beautiful to interpret some of these intros instrumentally.

PS- she does a beautiful job!

Yes the tune has beautiful harmony. One of my favourites of Gershwin.

I love her arrangement, but I prefer your vocal style :star_struck: … Let’s jam over it sometime!

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A wonderful (and perhaps surprising) collection of standards including lots of the original verses is/was Linda Ronstadt’s 1986 two-CD set, Round Midnight with Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra

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Ok, love Linda! I just listened thru most of the songs on all 3 of the albums she did with Nelson Riddle. I had already heard those versions of I Love You, for Sentimental Reasons, Skylark, and When You Wish Upon a Star. But had no idea there was a whole collection out there of Linda + Jazz Standards + Big Band Arrangments - great find!

So cool to hear the arrangements including intros for My Funny Valentine, Bewitched and Someone to Watch Over me*. I find these recordings to be very charming. And great to hear more uses of those intros/verses.

My Funny Valentine




Someone To Watch Over Me


However, my favorite tracks are Round Midnight and Lush Life. I’m going to add that to my list of songs to learn and use these as references.

Thanks so much for sharing Wendy!

PS - the videos are so classic :grin:

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