'Swinging Shepherd Blues'

'Swinging Shepherd Blues.' Tune by Moe Koffman, written as 'Blues a la Canadiana' and renamed 'Swinging (or 'Swingin') Shepherd Blues' in l957 when it was recorded by the composer, playing the flute, for the LP Hot and Cool Sax. Producer Morty Palitz suggested the name change.

'Swinging Shepherd Blues'

'Swinging Shepherd Blues.' Tune by Moe Koffman, written as 'Blues a la Canadiana' and renamed 'Swinging (or 'Swingin') Shepherd Blues' in l957 when it was recorded by the composer, playing the flute, for the LP Hot and Cool Sax. Producer Morty Palitz suggested the name change. Released as a single (Jubilee 5311), it was a hit internationally (Billboard magazine recorded it as peaking at 23rd position in 1958) and also was popular as copied (ie, played virtually in its original form) by the US bassist Johnnie Pate (Federal l23l2).

Among more than 300 recordings of the tune are versions by Count Basie, Herbie Mann, Mantovani, and David Rose. A vocal rendition, with lyrics by Rhoda Roberts and Kenny Jacobson, has been recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, and more recently by Natalie Cole (1993, CD 61496 Elektra). A second set of lyrics was written and recorded in the mid-1970s by Montreal's Bug Alley Band. An arrangement by Rick Wilkins has been placed in the Imperial Oil McPeek Pops Library. Koffman's tune has been recorded by instruments as varied as piano, synthesizer, guitar, and steel guitar. Evidence of the breadth of the tune's popularity was its inclusion as an encore (played on a bamboo flute) in a program given by the Shanghai Ballet on its Canadian tour of l977. The tune has been recorded by various Canadians, from Oscar Peterson to the Edmonton Youth Orchestra.

Koffman used 'Swinging Shepherd Blues' as his signature tune until 2000. In the 1990s, he received a BMI award for the millionth performance of the tune. One of his several later recordings (GRT 1230-51) was a minor hit in Canada in 1973. He last recorded the melody in 1993 (DSRSD 31089 Duke Street Records). Copyright to 'Swinging Shepherd Blues,' originally held by Benell Music Company, has passed through several hands and rested, as of 2002, with EMI Music Publishing Canada.