The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame announced the induction of “Swinging Shepherd Blues,” composed by jazz musician Moe Koffman. Performing the song as part of the Hall of Fame’s ongoing Covered Classics series are flutists Jane Bunnett and Ron Kurb, featuring Jake Koffman, Moe’s own grandson, on the saxophone.
Koffman recorded the track for his debut album in 1957. He never imagined it would become a hit. However, this was the track that established his reputation on an international level and it is reputed today as one that played an important role in the popularization of the flute in jazz music.
Upon its release in early 1958, Koffman’s original version went head-to-head on the U.S. Billboard chart with a cover version by David Rose and His Orchestra. Since then, “Swinging Shepherd Blues” has been performed as jazz, easy listening, Latin, classical and even country by such artists as trombonist Rob McConnell, pianist Oscar Peterson and flutist Herbie Mann, Paige Brook, Bill McBirnie and Alvin Hayes.
In 1973, Koffman told the Toronto Gazette, “The ‘Swinging Shepherd Blues’ was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I’m glad I wrote it and I’m glad it was a big hit. But I’ll probably never write a hit like that again. And you know what? I wouldn’t want to. I’ve done it.”