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

Posts tagged ‘piano’

Music Box Dancer

While we’re on the subject of instrumental pop tunes that I really like, let’s listen to “Music Box Dancer.” It was written by Canadian composer Frank Mills and it was originally released in 1974 but it didn’t become a hit until it was re-released in 1978. Two news shows used it as their theme song in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Remember last week when I decided that the Beautiful Girl just HAD to play the recorder? Yeah, well it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t the right instrument for her. (Imagine dying geese. In heat. With adenoids.) Ah well, at 3 bucks, I could afford to let her retire with her dignity still intact.

You may also recall back in January I wrote that I own a keyboard from my own adventures in piano playing a few years back. I decided to excavate it from the back of the closet and let her try that instead. It turns out she’s a natural! She’s no Beethoven but she was able to pick out a song her very first day and she’s learned a couple more since. She plans to give her first concert this Saturday for her adoring fans. Tickets are free but guests (and Grandmas) are encouraged to leave egg and and bunny shaped candy tributes in the basket by the door.

Art Tatum Plays Us Into 2011

I love Art Tatum! I’ve posted about him a few times on this blog and listened to him on You Tube quite a lot but I still haven’t bought any of his music. Looks like I have my second resolution for 2011 set! The first is this blog. I just finished a three month post every day run but I think I want to do 100 more days. Sorry dear readers, looks like you’re stuck hearing from me every day until April 11, 2011!  Yipee! Hearing my tired old stories day in and day out will never get old!

But let’s get back to the point. Here’s Art Tatum doing a number written by Benny Goodman, Edgar Sampson, Walter Hirsch and Clarence Profit called “Lullaby In Rhythm.”

My first dream of 2011 involved Jay Leno, the Mythbusters, and Kool-aid so I guess the lullaby gave me sweet dreams. I mean sure it had Leno in it but he was doing stand up and bombing so all in all I think it was a pretty good New Year omen.

Red Garland

The song “Lover” was written by Rogers and Hart for the 1932 movie “Love Me Tonight” but Peggy Lee did an extremely popular version of the song for the 1952 remake of “The Jazz Singer.” William “Red” Garland is probably best known for his work with the Miles Davis Quintet. He did not invent the block chord style but his unique adaptations are frequently copied by jazz pianists today. Here is Red’s fantastic version of “Lover.”

I couldn’t find any story behind the nickname, but I assume that Red Garland was a red head in his youth too. It only makes sense since studies show that people who were red heads at least until puberty are among the most intelligent and talented people on the planet. What? It might be true!

More Sammy

“Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home” comes from the Broadway play “St Louis Woman” which is was a musical comedy about infidelity, domestic violence, and murder so you know it was hilarious! It is a fantastic song and Sammy sings it beautifully as always.

I’ll be packing up to head to St Louis myself this time next week where I will be a St. Louis woman for about 48 hours. I will try to keep the fisticuffs and gun play to a minimum but I can’t promise anything. After all, if musical theater says violence must ensue, I may be powerless to resist the thrall. In the meantime, we dance! Er… watch a clip of dancing anyway…

This is almost certainly from “The Sammy Davis Jr. Show” though I couldn’t find which episode. I have nothing more to add except tap dancing always makes me smile!

On The One Year Anniversary Of This Ridiculous Conceit I Call A Blog

In 1905 Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe aka Jelly Roll Morton wrote “The Jelly Roll Blues” and in 1915 it became the first jazz song ever published.

Here’s Jellyroll

Jelly Roll Morton

And here’s his historic song:

Over the next century some absolutely amazing things happened in the world of jazz. All of which, one year ago today, led to me having something to write about in this blog!

A chat with a jazz loving friend led me to post… a video that’s no longer available but here’s something similar:

At the beginning of that first post I explained that I wanted to share some of awesome tunes culled from conversations and then, get this, at the bottom of the page I typed absolutely nothing! Can you believe it?? I continued to say nothing for three full days before I started turning this into the “Me Show” that we all know and love. It was a full three weeks before the transformation was complete. I don’t know about you but I call that remarkable restraint for an ego the size of mine!

Since then readers have been forced to plumb the depths of my clearly disturbed psyche in order to enjoy music from some of the most talented artists ever to walk the planet. I guess you’d have to decide if it’s been worth it. All I know is I’m having a blast writing this thing and as long as the soundtrack keeps coming (from people more clever than me), I will continue to perform my one woman show. (I really should be charging you people.)

Let’s swing it into year two with Sir Duke!

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!

Oscar Peterson and The Bats In My Belfrey

This particular slice of awesome is from a 1979 interview. Oscar Peterson did a fair amount of teaching and mentoring in the course of his career and he even founded a school in Toronto. I love the way he wraps words around stylistic qualities that I’ve always been able to hear but never describe. He plays snippets of probably 8 songs in this clip but he only names about half of them. Here’s the list of the ones he mentions:

“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”
“Roses Of Picardy”
“It’s Almost Like Being In Love”
“Sweet Georgia Brown”

Hey, speaking of tales of daring tales of adventure (yes, I know, just go with it) I have one to share with you! My daughter has reached that golden age where she can make her own bowl of cereal and turn on her own cartoons in the morning which means her loving mother can sleep in! So I was still abed on Sunday morning when I was awakened by the sound 40 pounds of squealing 6 year old barreling up the stairs. “MOMMMYYY!!! There is something in our bathroom and it is brown and it has wings!”

Now my daughter has a bit of a flare for the dramatic. I have no idea where she gets it from. (yes, I know, just go with it) Naturally I assumed the simplest answer first. “It’s just a moth dear.”

There was a brief silence then the sound of retreating footsteps followed by yet another squealing advance. “Mom that is NOT a moth!”

So I stumbled sleepy eyed from my bed and into our bathroom to find a HUGE bat (“huge” here meaning tiny) looming in our door frame (“looming” here meaning huddled in the corner).

This is not my first dance with a bat in the house. We seem to get one a year. Usually it’s flying around so I grab the broom purely for holding purposes because it makes me feel proactive somehow. Then I open the door and it just flies out. This is the first bat I ever encountered in daylight, just hanging there in standard bat sleeping position. “No problem,” thought I “I can finally put that broom to good use. I’ll just gently nudge it to get it flying then open up the door so it can fly out. What could possibly go wrong?” Here’s the thing about bats: they’re nocturnal. Now, of course this isn’t news to me. I’ve seen plenty of National Geographic specials. What I didn’t know is that bats are really really serious about this nocturnal thing! When I touched my little house guest it pulled it’s little bat head out from behind it’s little bat wings and regarded me with one sleepy disgruntled little bat eye. Then it let loose a string of squeaks that, if I had had a bat to human translator, I’m sure would have insulted my parentage, questioned my species and cast aspersions on my bedroom practices! After several failed attempts to wake it and several biblical plagues ultrasonically called down upon my house, the bat finally left of it’s own accord around 9:30 that night. I am glad this year’s bat encounter is over. I sure hope next year isn’t more “exciting.” I’m not sure my heart, my broom, or my homeowner’s insurance could take it!

PS Oscar Peterson truly is awesome!

Horace Silver And The Jazz Psychic Hotline

He was actually born Horace Silva but I suspect the fact that he was born in New England (Connecticut) has a lot to do with why he eventually became Silver.

“Senor Blues” was written in 1956 for the album “Six Pieces Of Silver.” This particular recording was done in 1959 in Sweden and, even though this version’s instrumental, the song does have lyrics. The melody is cool Latin jazz with an unusual 6/8 time signature but the lyrics are pure Blues! The singer’s woman, a wanton hussy to be sure, is playing around with the “tall and good looking” Senor Blues. Senor Blues, for his part, is philanderer with wanderlust. In other words, exactly the kind of happy, life affirming story you’d expect in a Blues song.

Once, when I and the internet were both still quite young, a faceless psychic in a chat room told me I’d find love later in life and it’d be with a tall bespectacled man named Richard. Well now it’s much later in my life. Could this video that my friend posted be the second part of the prophecy? Am I destined to end up with a mean mistreater like Senor Blues? Is my friend a super cool jazz fan sharing a great tune with his legions of Facebook friends or is he a harbinger of DOOM for my love life?? Of course we all know the only logical answer. I just hope Senor Blues isn’t a smoker. There’s nothing worse than having to spend happily ever after with a bastard that I’m allergic to!

Hoagy Carmichael Croons A Tune And Readers Of This Blog Dodge A Long-Winded Bullet

The song is “Memphis In June” and it was written in 1945 by Paul Francis Webster and Hoagy Carmichael I assume it was written for the movie “Johnny Angel” since the movie came out the same year. Hoagy recorded it himself but it looks like the most famous version was Nina Simone. Like many folks said on Facebook, “The Nearness of You” is my very favorite Hoagy Carmichael song but I really this lazy summertime tune too.

Rejoice gentle reader! You have been spared a self indulgent, overly long, and rambling post that had absolutely nothing to do with this song anyway. It was about something I read on Twitter that made me think about how show folk find the gumption to get back up on the proverbial horse and try again after they’ve bombed. Since I have an opinion about EVERYTHING whether I know what I’m talking about or not, I’m sure the subject will pop up again later.

Ahmad Jamal and Grand Theft Moments

Ahmad Jamal has been cited as one of the most important influences on the development of jazz after 1945. He recorded this song for his 1970 album “The Awakening.”

Nelson wrote “Stolen Moments” for a 1960 Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis album called “Trane Whistle.” No one thought much of it at the time of the album’s release but it quickly became a jazz standard. Two sets of lyrics were written for the song years later but I prefer it unsung.

I listened to this song while thinking about moments that have been stolen from me. We all have those but happily mine have been few and relatively minor. I listened again thinking about all the stolen moments of pure pleasure I’ve had in my life. I have to say it works both ways. I might just have to pick up “The Awakening” to listen to as I drive to Ann Arbor next weekend to steal a few moments with some dear friends.

Tag Cloud