"Summertime" is the centerpiece of Porgy & Bess, one of the greatest and best-known works of George Gershwin. Porgy & Bess was filled with timeless music, but "Summertime" earned a life outside of the musical, becoming one of the most-recorded songs of the 20th century. Hundreds of different versions of the song have been recorded, and since the ballad's melody is so sweet and strong, it sounds good even in pedestrian arrangements. What's remarkable about the song is that it always sounds fresh, whether it's delivered as a straight show tune or as ersatz R&B, as on Billy Stewart's stuttering surprise Top Ten hit from 1966. Stewart's rendition is perhaps the most extreme reworking of the ballad, and the most controversial, since it strays a bit from the basic song. Still, "Summertime" is such a well-constructed song that even when an artist takes liberties with the song, it retains its basic character. Perhaps a better example of this is Miles Davis and Gil Evans' elegant reading from 1958, which emphasized both the song's dual origins as folk song and symphony, all within a distinctly jazz setting. Indeed, "Summertime" is a favorite of jazz musicians, whether it's a vocalist like Ella Fitzgerald or a Clarinet player like Sidney Bechet, because its melody is so indelible and its chords so complex, it lends itself to an endless amount of interpretations. Some of those are certainly lesser than others, but even the poorest renditions of "Summertime" do nothing to diminish its greatness.