Broadway show tunes, Tin Pan Alley hits, and other popular songs have long been an important part of the jazz repertoire. In 1961 John Coltrane famously recorded a version of “My Favorite Things” from the 1959 Broadway musical The Sound of Music. In this critical response, I want you to compare Mary Martin’s (1959) recording of “My Favorite Things” from original soundtrack to the Broadway musical The Sound of Music (by the famous duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II) to John Coltrane’s famous rendition (from his 1961 album of the same name). Ethnomusicologist Ingrid Monson has stated that Coltrane “inverts the song at nearly every level” (1994: 297), transforming not only the sound, but the mood and even the cultural significance of the original version through his use of irony, parody, and other devices. How has Coltrane transformed both the sound and the meaning of this song in this version? If jazz musicians are saying something when they improvise, what do you think Coltrane is saying?
(If you’re unfamiliar with the context of the song, you can take a look at the last YouTube clip for reference, which is from the film version of the musical.)
Mary Martin 1959, original version: