What Is This Thing Called Love?
"What Is This Thing Called Love?" is a 1929 popular song written by Cole Porter, for the musical Wake Up and Dream. It was first performed by Elsie Carlisle in March 1929. The song has become a popular jazz standard and one of Porter's most often played compositions.
Wake Up and Dream ran for 263 shows in London. The show was also noticed in New York, and the critics praised Tilly Losch's performance of the song. The show was produced on Broadway in December 1929; in the American rendition, "What Is This Thing Called Love" was sung by Frances Shelley.
Jazz musicians soon included the song in their repertoire. The recordings of Ben Bernie and Fred Rich (vocal by The Rollickers) made it to the charts in 1930, and the song was also recorded by stride pianist James P. Johnson, clarinetist Artie Shaw and guitarist Les Paul. The piece is usually performed at a fast tempo; the 1956 recording of Clifford Brown and Max Roach with Sonny Rollins is one of the best-known uptempo instrumental versions. Saxophonist Sidney Bechet made a slow rendition in 1941 with Charlie Shavers.
- "Hot House" by Tadd Dameron
- "Barry's Bop" by Fats Navarro
- "Subconscious-Lee" by Lee Konitz
- "Fifth House" by John Coltrane
- "Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am" by Charles Mingus
- "Old K. (Kerope Zildjian) by Pierre Courbois
Other notable recordings
- Georges Metaxa - a single release for His Master's Voice (HMV) (catalog B3016) (1929)
- Leo Reisman and His Orchestra (vocal by Lew Conrad). A very popular recording in 1930.
- Libby Holman - recorded for Brunswick Records (catalog No. 4700) (1930).
- Artie Shaw and His Orchestra (1939). this reached the charts of the day. 
- Tommy Dorsey - single (1942 - Victor 27782) Sy Oliver's arrangement featured Connie Haines' singing and Ziggy Elman on trumpet.
- The King Cole Trio - (1944)
- Billie Holiday with Bob Haggart and His Orchestra (Joe Guy on trumpet, Bill Stegmeyer on alto saxophone, Armand Camgros and Hank Ross on tenor saxophones, Stan Webb on baritone saxophone, Sammy Benskin on piano, Tiny Grimes on guitar, Bob Haggart on bass and conductor, Specs Powell on drums, and a strings sextet) in New York City on August 14, 1945 for Decca.
- Les Paul - This reached No. 11 in the Billboard chart in 1948.
- Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1955 for use on his radio show and it was subsequently included in the box set The Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings (1954-56) issued by Mosaic Records (catalog MD7-245) in 2009.
- Frank Sinatra – In the Wee Small Hours (1955)
- Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook (1956)
- Clifford Brown and Max Roach Quintet – Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street (1956)
- Julie London – Julie Is Her Name, Volume II (1958)
- Bill Evans – Portrait in Jazz (1959)
- Anita O'Day – Anita O'Day Swings Cole Porter with Billy May (1959)
- Don Ellis – Jazz Jamboree 1962 (1962)
- Coleman Hawkins – Live in England '64 with Harry "Sweets" Edison (Jazz Icons Series IV) (1964)
- The Pasadena Roof Orchestra – The Best of the Pasadena Roof Orchestra (1973)
- Dexter Gordon on his album "The Other Side of Round Midnight" (1985)
- Wynton Marsalis – Standard Time Vol.2 (1991)
- Dee Dee Bridgewater - Keeping Tradition (1993)
- Jazz Orchestra of the Delta - Big Band Reflections of Cole Porter (2003)
- Lemar – De-Lovely Soundtrack (2004)
- Gwyneth Paltrow – Infamous Soundtrack (2005)
- Iggy Pop – Après (2012)
- Alex Mendham & His Orchestra – On With The Show (2017)
- 1946 Ginny Simms performed the song in the 1946 biographical film about Porter's life, Night and Day.
- 1946 Humoresque - performed by Peg La Centra
- 1948 The Time of Your Life - sung by Jeanne Cagney
- 1951 Starlift - sung by Lucille Norman and Gordon MacRae, danced by Gene Nelson and Janice Rule
- 1956 The Eddy Duchin Story
- 1989 New York Stories - performed by Quintette du Hot Club de France (as The Hot Club of France) with Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli
- 1990 The Russia House
- 1992 Husbands and Wives - performed by Leo Reisman and His Orchestra
- 2004 De-Lovely - sung by Kevin Kline
- 2006 Take the Lead - sung by Keely Smith
- 2006 Infamous - sung by Gwyneth Paltrow
- "What Is This Thing Called Love?" at jazzstandards.com - retrieved on 8 July 2009
- Shaw, Arnold (1989). The Jazz Age: Popular Music in the 1920s. Oxford University Press US,. p. 248. ISBN 0-19-506082-2.
- Coker, Jerry (1997). Jerry Coker's Complete Method for Improvisation: For All Instruments, p.13. ISBN 9780769218564.
- Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 605. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
- "The Online Discographical Project". 78discography.com. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
- Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 354. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
- Orodenker, M.H. (February 28, 1942). "On the Records". Billboard. p. 25.
- "Billie Holiday Discography". jazzdisco.org.
- Davies, Chris (1998). British and American Hit Singles. London: BT Batsford. p. 394. ISBN 0-7134-8275-3.
- "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
- "allmusic.com". allmusic.com. Retrieved October 9, 2017.