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The Way You Look Tonight

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In this walking bass lesson, I’m going to introduce you to some concepts that you can use for the jazz standard, “The Way You Look Tonight” as recorded by Frank Sinatra. This is an extremely common cocktail hour standard and also popular for first dances.

Remember, you don’t have to be a jazz fan to get into this stuff. In my experience no other genre has given me the same level of understanding about music and the bass in particular as jazz. Try it out!

The Feel

  • Swung eight notes
  • Moderate tempo

Form

Standard AABA form.

Background

From Wikipedia:

The Way You Look Tonight” is a song from the film Swing Time that was performed by Fred Astaire and written by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936.[1][2] Fields remarked, “The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry. The release absolutely killed me. I couldn’t stop, it was so beautiful.”[3]

In the movie, Astaire sang “The Way You Look Tonight” to Ginger Rogers while she was washing her hair in an adjacent room.[1] His recording reached the top of the charts in 1936. Other versions that year were by Guy Lombardo and by Teddy Wilson with Billie Holiday.[4]

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