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Classical Jazz 2

The sub-title doesn’t refer to classic tunes, but to interpretations of classical music by jazz musicians. Back in February I posted a short selection of Ravel’s Bolero here – the download link is still live.

Nearly ten years ago, an article by contemporary composer Mark-Anthony Turnage in the Guardian posed the question ‘Why do so few classical musicians take jazz seriously?

Turnage does, and has worked with the likes of drummer Pete Erskine and guitarist John Schofield improvising within a score played by classically trained musicians. But, he says, he can’t play jazz himself.

Bruce Chidester cynically or satirically – I can’t tell – suggests differences between classical and jazz musicians.

The left side of the brain is the seat of language and processes in a logical and sequential order (classical musician). The right side is more visual and processes intuitively, holistically, and randomly (jazz musician).

Which are you? Here’s a quick test.
(Although I’m right-handed and not ambidextrous, I have a split personality.)

I became a committed jazz fan as a teenager – my father played stride piano at home – yet the first album I bought was Bach’s Brandenberg Concerto. Obviously Bach has been an influence on countless jazz musicians. Here’s a selection of tracks from the IndoJazzia archives.

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01. Fats Waller – Bach Up to Me
02. Benny Goodman – Bach Goes To Town
03. Django Reinhardt – Bach Improvisation
04. Jacques Loussier Trio – Bach’s Pastorale in C minor
05. Classical Jazz Quartet – Concerto #2 in F major BWV 1047, 2nd Movement
06. Duran, Grappelli & Holloway – Brandenburg Boogie
07. George Barnes & Jazz Renaissance Quintet – Fugue in G Minor (Part 1 of 2)
08. Ray Brown & Laurindo Almeida – Air On The G-String
09. Oscar Peterson – The Bach Suite (Allegro-Andante-Bach’s Blues)
10. Petra Haden – Bach’s Prelude No. 2 in C minor
11. David Darling, Jorge Alfano, Joseph Nagler – Bach’s Persia

Actually, we had a different composition in mind, the song Stardust written by Hoagy Carmichael in 1927 with lyrics added in 1929 by Mitchell Parish. The song, “a song about a song about love“, played in an idiosyncratic melody in medium tempo, became an American standard, and with over 1,500 recordings is one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century.

I’m not sure if hyperspace is composed of the remnants of exploded stars” but presumably your ears are so feel free to download this selection recorded by the following artists: Art Tatum / Artie Shaw & His Orchestra / Benny Goodman Sextet w. Charlie Christian / Clifford Brown / Denny Dennis / Errol Garner / Frank Sinatra / Glenn Miller Orchestra / Jimmy Shirley / Joe Pass & Jimmy Rowles / Kvartet Dubravka Majnarica / Ron Carter & Jim Hall.

1913 -1993
Denny Dennis is now stardust.

I grew up listening to my father playing his favourite ‘jazz’ standards. This version of George and Ira Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm was recorded when he was 85.

Sadly, I felt that his playing was one-dimensional and after I left the parental nest I began to really appreciate the meditative zone induced by the artistry of some jazz pianists.

This download is one continuous track to keep you in the mood. Although Mingus (bass), Gismonti (guitar) and DeJohnette (drums) are better known for their primary instruments, they fit quite nicely in my selection.

Tracks
Charles Mingus – Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress, Then Silk Blues
Egberto Gismonti – Don Quijote
Tete Montoliu – Una Guitarra
Esbjörn Svensson – Like Wash It Or Something
Jack DeJohnette – Ebony
Jacob Karlzon – Gaspard de la Nuit II: Le Gibet (after Ravel)
Mara Rosenbloom – I Rolled and I Tumbled (tribute to John Lee Hooker)
Keith Tippett – Let The Music Speak

TC

Abercrombie had the “ability to fit any context – chameleon-like but always distinctly himself.”
John Kelman

The recent passing of John Abercrombie is sad yet as with the recorded output of all great (and not so great!) musicians, his lives on.

His albums as a leader were mostly with ECM, starting with Timeless in 1974. The year previously, he had released Friends, a fusion album on Oblivion Records.

Before that, a notable recording he appeared on as a guest was Dreams, recorded in 1970. This was also the name of the seminal fusion group set up by the Brecker Brothers, Randy and Mike, with Billy Cobham on drums. (Listen here.)

And it is Abercrombie’s role as a sidesman in albums lead by others which is the focus of IndoJazzia’s compilation, our tribute to an always interesting guitarist.

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Unless otherwise noted, the following are album title tracks.

1974. Horacee Arnold – Tales Of The Exonerated Flea
1977. Colin Walcott – Grazing Dreams (ECM)
1977. Jack DeJohnette – Picture 5 (fr. Pictures ECM)
1977. Kenny Wheeler – Deer Wan (ECM)
1980. Jan Garbarek – Eventyr (ECM)
1989. Danny Gottlieb – Whirlwind
1994. Bob Brookmeyer – Ugly Music (fr. Electricity)
2007. Mark Egan – As We Speak

A trio with two other ECM stalwarts …

A poster for a Tim Burton directed animated movieworth watching (video)

One listen to this compilation and you may be expressing yourself in German: “Nein, nein!”

There isn’t much flow to this assortment, with the first three tracks dithering over the number. Then Italian songstress Maria Pia De Vito interprets a Hendrix number from her album, Mind The Gap, described as an exploration of the crossover territory between freeform jazz, traditional European music and abstract electronica.

John Martyn mumbles his way through his own song with the help of Carla Bley’s favourite saxophonist Andy Shepherd, then two very capable acoustic guitarists offer some comfortable musings.

Sly and Robbie are the renowned Jamaican rhythm duo adding some rare clout to the Norwegian duo who have consistently pushed the boundaries of jazz, largely through their use of electronics.

Finally, Jack DeJohnette had the able support of Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock and Dave Holland at the 1990 Montreux Jazz Festival.

But that’s only eight tracks, you may think. That is some 49 minutes worth, though, and there are no more tracks in IndoJazzia’s archives which fit the monthly theme. However, do find twenty minutes to watch the original line-up of Caravan playing one of their legendary suites, and note that they are original members of the ‘Canterbury Scene’, as was the late Hugh Hopper on the first track.

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01. Hopper, Dean, Gowan, Sheen – One Three Nine
02. Kenny Wheeler – Seven, Eight, Nine (Pt.1)
03. Maria Pia De Vito – If Six Was Nine
04. John Martyn w. Andy Shepherd – Number Nine
05. Harry Manx – Nine Summers Lost
06. Mehmet Ergin – Nine Faces
07. Sly & Robbie w. Nils Petter Molvær & Eivind Aarset – Nine
08. Jack DeJohnette’s Parallel Realities – Nine Over Reggae

Play full screen and LOUD!

Once heard, Steely Dan has been one of those bands which demand ‘loyalty’. The strength of the song writing partnership of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen and the supreme musicianship of their bands has ensured that their “string of pristine, sophisticated albums with ‘calculated and literary lyrics’ that blurred the lines of jazz, pop, rock and soul” will endure as long as recorded music is listened to.

Walter Becker died yesterday from an undisclosed illness aged 67.

Read Rickie Lee Jones’ poignant tribute.


There are only eight Steely Dan studio albums, but such is their originality that many musicians cover the songs. There’s even a Facebook page called Steely Dan Covers.

The following tracks are from tribute albums and are listed in the order of release of the original albums, noted in brackets.

Download

1972. The Royal Dan w. Mike Stern – Dirty Work (Can’t Buy a Thrill)
1973. The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Bodhisattva (Countdown to Ecstasy)
1974. Bob McAlpine – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number (Pretzel Logic)
1975. Sara Isaksson & Rebecka Törnqvist – Rose Darling (Katy Lied)
1976. The Woody Herman Band – Kid Charlemagne (The Royal Scam)
1977. Hoops McCann Band – Deacon Blues (Aja)
1980. Sara Isaksson & Rebecka Törnqvist – Gaucho (Gaucho)
+
fr. 2000. Steely Dan – Cousin Dupree (Two Against Nature)

September Leaves Summer

In temperate zones of the world, September marks the changing of the seasons, the leaves turn into non-green colours and fall to earth to become nutrients for the seeds and fruits which nourish us and hibernating mammals. and migrating birds.

For we humans, it marks summer holidays past, a welcome return for parents of their children to centres of learning, but perhaps a less than welcome return to drudgery, of surviving harsh weather and disciplinarian teachers.

Living in tropical climes means that the passing of the seasons does not have quite the same resonance. Waiting for the rains to come, or go, is it, the metronomic tic-toc of a clock rather than the finality of tic-tac-toe.

Yes, September points to the passing of the years, from childhood to dotage and a final farewell. Naturally, there are songs about the month, and one in particular is now a ‘standard’:.

fr. Wikipedia

‘September Song’ is based on a metaphor in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 which compares a year to a person’s life span from birth to death.

The song was composed by Kurt Weill, with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, and introduced by Walter Huston in the 1938 Broadway musical production Knickerbocker Holiday. After being used in the 1950 film September Affair, the song has since been recorded by numerous singers and instrumentalists.

First though, listen to Walter Huston’s original version

WFMU has umpteen versions to listen to, far more than trawled from IndoJazzia’s archives.

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Note: Lotte Lenya (18 October 1898 – 27 November 1981) was an Austrian singer, diseuse, and actress, … best remembered for her performances of the songs of her husband, Kurt Weill.

Today, 21st August 2017, much of the USA’s population will be watching a rare solar eclipse while the rest of the world will be watching it via live streaming on internet connected devices or TVs.

The moon’s gravitational pull affects the ocean’s tides and the internal equilibrium of members of the animal kingdom, e.g. lunatics and werewolves. We can therefore expect more craziness.

Howling Wolf has a song about the moon.

But IndoJazzia is not about craziness; it’s about jazz heritage, past, present and into the unknown. So, unwilling to be eclipsed or out-trumped by natural and unnatural events, we think today gives us a good enough excuse to offer a couple of compilations of Moon Jazz.

The first, Beautiful Moons Ago, is about the past; there are some familiar tunes and, we hope, some less so.

The second, Reaching For The Moon, highlights the contemporary fascination with the orb that pulls.