‘Blue Skies’ was a song originally written in 1926 by Irving Berlin for the musical Betsy, it thereafter went on to be one of the most popular records of the 20th century with iterations being released by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson, Eva Cassidy and Rod Stewart to name but a few. So when London producer Maya Jane Coles decided to remix the track she was not short of options for vocalists.
She opted to use the 1958 version recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, an edition which consists predominately of ad-libs from the Queen of Jazz. Coles uses said improvisations consistently throughout the record to create compelling rhythm sections, the first cases of which you will notice as soon as you press play. The track begins with a series of layered ad-libs backed by a rather subdued sounding bass synth before the introduction of a simple hat and snare pattern missing every strand of low-end. 45 seconds in and the bass is no longer subdued but out in full force, a kick and open hat have found their way in to the minimalist drum beat and the unmistakable voice of Fitzgerald is echoing around your room.
One aspect of Coles’ production that makes her a standout from the current crop of house producers is that she never settles where others might, 60 seconds in to this remix you could be forgiven for thinking that that was as complex as the remix was going to get: big house beat, throbbing bassline, impressive manipulation of vocals are all present so what else is there? Well soon enough an understated piano riff emerges, adding one more layer of bounce and swing to the already head-bob inducing record, and this is before the incredible saxophone melody interjects!