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Archive for the ‘Hard Bop’ Category

A-Z Ladies Of Music V

V is for jazz vocalist and saxophonist Vi Redd. Vi (Elvira) is the daughter of jazz drummer Alton Redd and her aunt was vocalist Alma Hightower. She spent some time in her youth performing in and around Los Angeles but she left jazz to work for the Board Of Education in the late 1950s but she returned to music in 1962. She played Vegas with Earl Hines and toured the world with greats like Dizzy Gillespie. Here she is performing “Stormy Monday Blue” with Dizzy’s orchestra.

Vi got a teaching certificate from USC and taught school through the 70s. I didn’t move to LA until 1980 so I missed being taught by a jazz legend by one year. Some kids have all the luck!

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So What

This rather fabulous animation of Miles Davis’ “So What” (1959) was done by  writer/film maker Dan Cohen. It illustrates the sheet music parts for Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers. He notes in the video comments that he didn’t add the drum notations for Jimmy Cobb but we forgive him because, as I said, it’s fabulous!

Now comes the “magic” part. Watch while I fill this post about a lovely animation and a beautiful piece of music with eupemisms about the functions of my upper digestive tract. No need to thank me. It’s a gift.

Miles Davis was a musical genius. He was also, by many accounts, an abusive bastard. I hope all abuse survivors seek and recieve the help they need but I don’t think this is the forum for that sort of discussion. The only reason I bring it up is I’m currently sporting two black eyes. No I have not been punched in the face (or anywhere else for that matter). Not ever.

So here’s what happened: I have an intestinal “thing.” I’m not gonna discuss it in great detail. What it boils down to is that I have certain dietery restrictions and as long as I follow them it’s really not much more than a minor inconvenience. If I don’t follow the rules… let’s just say, one way or another, belly contents are downloaded at high speeds.

Here’s the problem: The things I’m not supposed to have are REALLY delicious! I’m not naming any names or assigning any blame but the other night at dinner, mistakes were made and cookies were tossed. I don’t mean to brag but I gotta say I am the Venus Williams of the technicolor yawn. So masterful was the jettisoning of the supper cargo that I burst all the tiny blood vessels around my eyes and I even turned the the white of my left eye a lovely blood red.

I felt just fine after the deed was done so I’ve had no choice but to come to work looking like this. They don’t let you call off for being unattractive after all. Since I work with the public, pretty much everyone who sees me does the shock then pity double take. One kind soul even went so far as to offer me an abuse hotline phone number. It’s doubly awkward when folks ask what happened because, in polite company, you can’t really tell people that the shiners are the result of a gastro geyser mishap. I hope it’ll clear up soon but in the meantime, maybe I should stuff cotton in my nostrils and start telling people I’ve had some “work” done.

Charlie Parker’s Laura

The song “Laura” was composed in 1945 by David Raskin with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. It was adapted from the theme for the 1944 movie of the same name. Charlie Parker recorded the song for his 1950 album “Charlie Parker With Strings” (not to be confused with his 1949 album “Charlie Parker With Strings.”)

My Beautiful Cousin was named after this Beautiful Song. Her father, my Beautiful Uncle, chose it because he liked the lyrics. She and I were born two weeks apart and we lived across the street from each other. For the first 9 years of our lives, we were raised like twins. We’re not even close to “identical cousins” but we were definitely a  “… pair of matching bookends.” We shared wardrobes, birthday parties, and most weekends a (slightly damp) trundle bed. We were thick as thieves so naturally we fought like feral cats. She moved to California when we were 9 (joint custody stuff) and that ended the twinning and the fighting but we are still close.

Family conscensus says that I am the Kathy of our twin cousin duo and she is the Patty. I’m not sure what it says about our family that *I* get to be the classy one! My Beautiful Cousin says she just wants to be whichever one was hotter. That’s ridiculous, of course, because they were both played by Patty Duke. Besides, everyone knows I’M the hot one! (Hee hee hee, I get to say that because she’ll never read this anyway!)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

“How Are Things In Glocca Morra” was composed by Burton Lane and the lyrics were written by E. Y. Harburg. It was first introduced in 1947 in the musical “Finnian’s Rainbow” but it has since become a jazz standard. Sonny Rollins recorded it on his Blue Note debut album “Sonny Rollins, Volume One.” It’s a beautiful song for a warm, sunny, beautiful St Patrick’s Day.

Irish people have been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for over 1000 years but the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York in 1762. It’s such a big holiday in Chicago (my home town) that, in addition to the 50 billion parades, they dye the river green to celebrate the occasion.

Chicago River Dyed Green

Chicago River Dyed Green

I never wear green on St. Patrick’s Day on account of unpleasantness not worth dredging up here. I will, however, be making corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes for dinner because some traditions are just too darned delicious to ignore!

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…

Pharoah Sanders

Tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders was actually born Ferrell Sanders but he got his nickname from band leader Sun Ra. He came to prominence while playing with John Coltrane in 1965. After his time with Coltrane he formed a partnership with vocalist Leon Thomas which produced his most famous song “The Creator Has A Master Plan.”  Here is Mr Sanders in 1989 performing on the show “Sunday Night” with David Sanborn. The song is called “Thembi.” It’s off his 1971 album and it was written for and named after his wife.

When I first heard this song I thought to myself “Every wife inspired song is beautiful.”  Yipes was I wrong! It turns out “The Pina Colada Song” and “You’re Having My Baby” were wife inspired too and they made AOL Radio’s “100 Worst Songs Ever” list. I thought of several other examples that weren’t on the list too. Lesson learned: over generalizations are bad. Luckily Pharoah Sanders is good!

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!

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