On Green Dolphin Street

Originally Performed ByUrbie Green
Original AlbumEast Coast Jazz Series 6 (1955)
MusicBronislau Kaper
Lyrics ByNed Washington
Phish Debut1989-08-12
Last Played1989-08-12
Current Gap1785
HistorianEllis Godard (lemuria)


While this song is praised for facilitating improvisation, with standard progression and few harmonic changes, the vocal portions are known to be challenging. Ella Fitzgerald recorded a version in the 1980s, but most versions have been instrumental.

While Phish’s version was instrumental as well – in the style of Miles Davis’ version which helped make the song a jazz classic – it was performed at a wedding on 8/12/89, fitting the lyrics they didn’t sing. The song was written as the main theme to a 1947 movie, based on a 1944 book, about the complications a misdirected letter present to a young couple’s marriage. Phish also played the song at a private party at Trey’s parents’ house on 3/5/89, presumably also as an instrumental.

Miles Davis, “On Green Dolphin Street”

Credits for the song have been similarly misdirected. Davis’ 1958 recording (on '58 Miles Featuring Stella by Starlight) is considered seminal – but he of course didn’t write it; the original had lyrics. Moreover, others recorded it previously, including Urbie Green (as a ballad, in 1955) and The Poll Winners, whose 1957 versionis almost the template version for the tune, taken at a medium tempo with a Latin feel.”

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