Summertime  was composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward although apparently the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin (his lovely wife ...)  (info from Wikipedia, apart from the bit about Ira Gershwin being his wife ... )

The composition has been very widely recorded over the years and remains hugely popular with audiences and performers today who still love to sing and play it. However, there are many variations of the chord sequence, and this can be problematic for musicians, especially rhythm section players. Here are a few different versions.  (Some of these recordings have been taken from a wonderful website called THE MANY SOUNDS OF SUMMERTIME by Thomas Cunniffe)

Click on each file to open it and use your 'back' button to return to this page.
The files can be downloaded (right-click on PC or control-click on Mac).

Billie Holiday with Bunny Berigan (trumpet)
and Artie Shaw (clarinet) 1936
this leads into a backing track ... (in Bbm)

  • Summertime chords in Bbm (Bb Eb C)   


Charlie Parker with strings 1949 (in Gm)

  • Summertime chords in Gm (Bb Eb C)   
  • Parker ending lick (Bb Eb C)   


Gil Evans and Miles Davis 1958 (in Bbm)

  • Summertime - Gil Evans (Bb Eb C)   


Ella and Louis 1957 (fighting it out between Bm and Em)


Salsa style backing for Summertime (in Am)

  • Summertime Am - salsa piano   


Jamey Aebersold backing vol25 (in Dm)

  • Summertime chords in Dm (Bb Eb C)   






Copyright © Mark Bassey