Wonderful Tunes Provided By Friends. Wild Tangents Provided By Me.

Archive for the ‘Cool Jazz’ Category

Philly Joe Jones Plays My EKG

Philly Joe Jones started out in 1947 as the house drummer at Café Society where he played with many of top bebop musicians of the day. His biggest influences were Tadd Dameron and Miles Davis. He toured with Miles for a few years and in 1958 he started leading his own groups. In 1968 he moved to London and became a music educator. In 1981 he the group Dameronia which played the compositions of his mentor Tadd Dameron. Jones continued working with the group until his passing in 1981. This is a drum solo is featured on a DVD series of solos I believe. No song here. Just rhythmic awesomeness. Side note: Apparently jazz man is not an occupation that comes with a dental plan.

The solo quite accurately mirrors my heart rate at the moment. Why?

My T-Minus Two Days Until Party Checklist

  • Room reserved: Check!
  • Decorations acquired: Check!
  • Gifts bought: Check!
  • Cake ordered: Check!
  • Alarmingly large guest list: Check!
  • Nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something vital: Check!
  • Vow to join a “No holidays allowed” religion: Taken!

Please excuse me while I go spend a relaxing evening with my head tucked between my knees…

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Tis The Season For Pete Jolly

Pete Jolly released several albums as a solo artist and as part of  the Pete Jolly Trio but he’s probably best known for his work on movie and television soundtracks. Here’s Pete performing his 1963 Grammy nominated song “Little Bird.” This particular performance comes from the 2003 Clint Eastwood documentary “Piano Blues” which was aired on PBS as part of the series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues.”

(CAUTION: Please assume crash position to avoid getting whiplash from the following segue.)

Speaking of things which are Jolly, my daughter’s holiday show was today! When I decided to become a parent, watching shows like this one was high on my “can’t wait to do it” list. Little kids are awesome! They forget the words, they are seldom near the tune, they constantly break the forth wall and if your little darling is up on that stage it’s the greatest show on earth!

Mine wore her golden Christmas dress, sang and danced her heart out and then declared her performance “great!” I agreed enthusiastically. In the car on the way home she was kind enough to share some valuable pointers on voice performance. Apparently the secret’s in the squint. I hope you’re taking notes Celine Dion!

Miles Davis In Blue

Both of the videos today feature songs from the 1959 album “Kind Of Blue” which is the best selling jazz album of all time. The idea behind the recording session was to provide simple chord outlines as a backdrop to the solo performances of the musicians. Davis wanted to capture the spontaneous feeling of the first take on all the songs. For “Blue In Green,” the song in the first video, Miles apparently wrote the symbols for G minor and A augmented chords on a piece of  paper and handed it to Bill Evans saying “see what you can do with this.” Clearly what Bill did was magic.

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“Flamenco Sketches” derives it’s name from the Flamenco style progression of chords which form the backdrop of the piece. I have no idea what a Flamenco chord progression is but I do know beautiful when I hear it!

I listened to both of these songs right before I went out for my walk today so I could listen to them in my mind as I walked. We are having yet another Indian Summer here in the great state of Illinois and the weather is gorgeous! Tomorrow we get back to our regularly scheduled coldness but for today the only blues we have around here are in the sky!

Chet Baker

Here’s a fun clip from a 1976 Bob Hope special. It features Sammy Cahn, Harry Ritz, Marty Allen, and Jan Murray.

Here is a Sammy Cahn composition called ‘Time After Time.” This is the first time I’ve ever heard this beautiful song. It was first introduced by Frank Sinatra in the 1947 movie “It Happened In Brooklyn.” Sammy Cahn also wrote “Three Coins In A Fountain” and “My Kind Of Town (Chicago Is)”

Chet Baker sings it beautifully. By the time this footage was shot in 1964 the effects Chet’s of addiction were already quite evident. He’s not looking terribly sober here and, at 35, the hollow look of his cheeks makes me think a lot of his teeth were probably already gone. I love his music but yeesh, just say no kids!

Today as I sat down to write this post I proclaimed that my body was worn out! That’s because, on top of my normal “keep ahead of the squalor” chore list, I also had to assemble a dresser for my daughter’s room. Many of my daughter’s friends here in the conservative “traditional family values” heartland were quite surprised to learn that women are allowed to purchase and operate hand tools without male supervision in this state but I assured them it was so. It was a pretty easy project but it was fiddly and time consuming which was why I declared that I was worn out when I sat down.

Of course my little Allen wrench fatigue is nothing like having a truly worn out body. Here is what Chet Baker looked like after 30+ years of heroin addiction:

Chet Baker

I hope Chet’s getting a spa day in jazz man heaven!

Ah The Bill Evans Of The Night. What Beautiful Music…!

Bill Evans’ take on this 1945 Jerome Kern tune is awesome. “Up With The Lark” is from the movie “Centennial Summer.” Kern’s score was nominated for an Oscar that year but “The Jolson Story” won.

Well alright one more but this is the last one and then… well I’ll probably listen to them both again. This was filmed near the end of Bill’s life. He looks older than his years but his hands seem oddly smooth and youthful to me. Law’ but he plays beautifully!

I go to bed late but I am almost always up with the larks. I tend to use motherhood to explain away my sleeplessness but really it’s just plain old insomnia. The girlie is slightly resistant to going to bed. For example tonight’s bed time dialog went something like this:

“Mommy, can I read you just one more book before I go upstairs?”

“Alright but it has to be a really short book.”

“Okay, just let me get a pencil and some paper and I’ll write one!”

Once we read a pre-written book, she went to bed without any drama and she’ll stay that way until well after sun up tomorrow.

I, on the other hand will still be up for hours and I’ll probably be awake again before rosy dawn touches the horizon. I don’t actually get out of bed though because waking up early makes you a perfectly acceptable insomniac but getting up early makes you a morning person and I shudder at the thought of becoming one of those!

Bill Evans, Missed Opportunities, And Me

Every time I listen to another Bill Evans song I think “Now this is his most beautiful song” and then I hear some more. “Some Other Time” is a perfect example. I think it’s his most beautiful song.

This particular version of “Some Other Time” comes from a 1961 live recording at the Village Vanguard.  Bill recorded it again in 1975 with Tony Bennett. For me the lyrics really change the mood of the song. The version I posted feels absolutely peaceful but Tony Bennet’s vocals about missed opportunities bring out the wistful qualities.

I guess missed opportunities happen to us all. I wonder if it’s even possible to always remain open and receptive to all the bounty the universe wishes to give us. Then again it’s sometimes hard to even recognize opportunities when they do crop up because the mysterious forces which guide the heavens and earth are, well… mysterious! But as long as opportunity pins me down and knocks sharply and repeatedly on my forehead with a blunt object, I’ll be sure to seize it immediately!

Bill Evans And Tony Bennett Diverging Fates

This is from the 1975 album “Tony Bennett and Bill Evans Album.”  The 70’s were not terribly kind to Tony Bennett. He divorced one wife and separated from another, he went bankrupt and developed a near fatal drug habit. Bill Evans, on the other hand, was relatively stable for at least part of the decade. He’d just kicked his decades long heroin habit and he entered a time of peak creativity. Of course by the end of the decade Tony Bennett was on the road recovery while Bill Evans turned to cocaine which killed him in 1980.

The 70’s was a decade of training for me; training of the potty variety, training of the wheel variety, and finally training of the bra variety. I’m still not sure what those bras were trying to train exactly but I exited puberty with the right equipment so I guess I passed.

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