by Cole Porter
What is This Thing Called Love is a great Jazz Guitar Chord Melody and was composed in 1929 for the musical Wake Up and Dream. It has been recorded, arranged and re-harmonized by most jazz musicians since the early 30’s … some even went as far as composing a new melody on top of it (see Tadd Dameron’s Hot House for a good example.) I most often hear it as a straight-ahead up-tempo swing at jam sessions everywhere. The comfortable 32-bar form offers improviser an simple yet challenging harmonic setting for soloing.
Recently, I heard a trombone player call this tune at a jam a session as an up-tempo… with the entire A sections over an “C” bass pedal and the B section with walking bass. It gave the tune a modal flavor and it felt great; try it. Play that tune “straight ahead” and then experiment to find out what arrangement / re-harmonization ideas work for you.
Here again, too many good recordings of that tune exist! I will make a “out of the box” suggestion with the album At The Garden Party. It’s a bass-guitar duo album with Ed Bickert and Don Thompson: it’s played fast, swinging but it still is smooth and interesting. Listen to the whole album, it’s worth it!