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.
“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!
Almost every article I read about Larry Young says that he was under rated. I personally think if he’d lived long enough he would have gotten the recognition he so richly deserved. Then again James Dean only needed 3 major film roles to become a legend so who knows. The song “Paris Eyes” is from Larry’s 4th album “Into Somethin'” (1964).
In the second half of the 20th century jazz fell out of favor here in the States but it was still wildly popular in Western Europe. Many artists migrated to countries like France when work became hard to find here. I looked and it turns out France is still a pretty big jazz mecca even today. There is a jazz festival almost every week there!
Since I love to dream and I also love to travel, I naturally started planning my fabulous Fake French vacation immediately. Here’s the fascinating thing though, it turns out a trip to France is not nearly as expensive as I thought it would be. If I saved just a bit I could actually swing it! Here’s the even more amazing part, even the cheap hotels in France are gorgeous! Check this place out:
That’s a hotel in my price range! I ain’t rich so trust me that’s Paris’ answer to Motel Six or “Motel Six” as they call it in French. (No really, look it up!) Now I just have to find French food in my price range. I must be sure to highlight the question “Where is the Stuckeys” in my phrase book. I bet chili dogs in France are superb!
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!
Today is John Coltrane’s 84th birthday! An interesting fact that I just learned today: the African Orthodox Church beatified him as Saint John William Coltrane. There is a St. John Coltrane curch in San Francisco that I just have to visit some day! Unfortunately the calendar on their website says “Coming Soon” so I have no idea if there are any special events planned for the day. Here is one of my all time favorite songs. It’s a Duke Ellington John Coltrane collaboration and the whole album is gorgeous!
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!
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.
Here are some videos in remembrance of a great singer, composer, and civil rights activist Abbey Lincoln. She passed away on August 14 at the age of 80. I thought it best today if we just listen and enjoy the work of this beautiful and talented woman. RIP Abbey.
Abbey Lincoln on the Steve Allen Show:
Abbey in “The Girl Can’t Help It”
Abbey with former husband Max Roach