Among the many jazz standards that were popular in Brazil as anywhere in the world, Tenderly stands out because it was native Brazilian Farnésio Dutra de Silva aka Dick Farney who allegedly introduced the song on record.
From 1946 to 1949, while scoring a string of hits on the Brazilian charts, Dick Farney actually spent most of his time performing in the US. In March 1947, after appearing on several radio shows, he recorded a number of songs with Paul Baron’s orchestra at Majestic Studios in New York. According to the liner notes on the back cover of the 1954 album Dick Farney na Broadway, compiling these sessions, it was at these recording sessions that Farney met pianist, arranger and composer Walter Gross who played a yet untitled composition during breaks. It is further stated that Farney wanted to record the tune which is why Gross asked Jack Lawrence to write the lyrics, so that Farney could introduce the song on record a few days later.
Actually, most sources report Sarah Vaughan to have introduced Tenderly on record. While it is verifiable that Vaughan’s release at Musicraft Records with George Treadwell’s orchestra became a modest hit on the US pop charts in late 1947 with quite an impact on her emerging career, it is difficult to find evidence when exactly she recorded the song. Various dates are indicated for the period of spring 1946 to summer 1947, very likely caused by the fact that both catalogue and matrix numbers by Musicraft Records do not match chronologically. Sole exception is Jack Lawrence, who claims that Sarah Vaughan’s vocal recording dates back to 1946, just like the first instrumental recording of Tenderly by trumpeter Randy Brooks—being the songs’s lyricist, Jack Lawrence should be a reliable source as he was an active part of the genesis of Tenderly. According to him, it was singer Margaret Whiting who introduced him to Gross with the intention of writing the lyrics for the yet untitled song. So he did, even though Gross had to be convinced of the title since he first refused it as sounding like an instruction on sheet music.
However, Tenderly not only became the biggest hit Walter Gross ever composed but Dick Farney recorded at least one of the first versions, if not the first—moreover, a very fine one. Even though Tenderly found some favour with musicians after its publishing, it was only Rosemary Clooney’s recording in 1952 with Percy Faith’s orchestra which turned it into a worldwide hit.
In 1953, João Donato was the first to release Tenderly as an a-sided single in Brazil with Invitation on the flipside. The same year, Trio Surdina presented Tenderly as the opening song on their self-titled debut album.
The next year, Dick Farney issued Tenderly as an a-side to How Soon, accompanying his album Dick Farney na Broadway which compiled all songs from that recording session in 1947. He recorded the song three more times, first in 1956 on Dick Farney Trio with Dinarte Rodrigues Filho on guitar and Ed Lincoln on bass, then in 1974 on Um Piano ao Cair da Tarde, both times as pianist, and finally in 1976 as vocalist on his collaboration album with Claudette Soares, Tudo Isto é Amor.
In 1957, Tenderly was Leny Eversong’s choice as the closing song on the album she recorded with Neal Hefti’s orchestra in the US, serving as a perfect vehicle to show her vocal artistry. The next year, Tenderly was chosen again as an album’s closing song, this time by Ed Lincoln with vocals by Fred Peters on his debut album Ao Teu Ouvindo, reissued 1962 and 1963 as Ed Lincoln Boite.
In 1970, João Peixoto Primo’s quintet featured Renato Axelrud’s baritone sax in a fashionable setting while trumpeter Márcio Montarroyos delivered a cool jazz inspired interpretation on his 1973 debut album Sessão Nostalgia.
Selected recordings of Tenderly:
1. Dick Farney from the album Dick Farney na Broadway (1954, Sinter SLP 1013) [1947 version]
2. João Donato from the single Tenderly b/w Invitation (1953, Sinter 00-00.212-a)
3. Trio Surdina from the album Trio Surdina (1953, Musidisc M-007)
4. Leny Eversong from the album Leny Everson na América do Norte (1957, Total Sound/Copacabana CLP 11521)
5. Luiz Bonfá from the album Alta Versatilidade (1957, Odeon MOFB 3003)
6. Ed Lincoln featuring Fred Peters from the album Ao Teu Ouvido (1958, Helium HLP 36001) aka Ed Lincoln Boite (1962,Pawal P-20.013) aka Ed Lincoln Boite (1963, Disc Tape EDL 5005)
7. Severino Filho from the album Onde Nos Leva o Ritmo (1961, Continental LPP 3151)
8. Moacyr Silva from the album É Tempo de Bolero (1962, Copacabana CLP 11272)
9. Primo Quinteto from the album Um Homem e uma Mulher (1970, Equipe EQC-833)
10. Márcio Montarroyos from the album Sessão Nostalgia (1973, Som Livre SSIGI 5025)
11. Dick Farney from the album Um Piano ao Cair da Tarde (1974, Odeon SMOFB 3852)
12. Dick Farney from the album Tudo Isto é Amor (1976, Odeon SMOFB 3904)
Comparative playlist of Tenderly:
1. Sarah Vaughan from the single Tenderly b/w Don’t Blame Me (1946, Musicraft [USA] 504)
2. Randy Brooks from the single Lamplight b/w Tenderly (1946, Decca [USA] 24161)
3. Rosemary Clooney from the single Did Anyone Call b/w Tenderly (1952, Columbia [USA] D.B. 3099)
The evening breeze caressed the trees tenderly • The trembling trees embraced the breeze tenderly • Then you and I came wandering by • And lost in a sigh were we • The shore was kissed by sea and mist tenderly
I can’t forget how two hearts met breathlessly • Your arms opened wide and closed me inside • You took my lips, you took my love so tenderly
Your arms opened wide and closed me inside • You took my lips, you took my love so tenderly