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.
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
This evening, IndoJazzia will be striding through Kebayoran Baru in Jakarta to the public launch of Erik Sondhy’s album Abbey Road Sessions Vol.1 released internationally on the IndoJazzia label. (No apologies for the selfie plug.)
In an article in Tuesday’s Jakarta Post, Erik says that Keith Jarrett is the contemporary player he most admires because he “plays all genres of music, and is a genius at improvisation.”
In the sleeve notes to Erik’s album, we’ve noted echoes of Jarrett, as well as Fats Waller. We also waxed lyrical and wrote of Erik’s “minimalist boogie-woogie“, “melodic classicism“, and suggested that he “plucked memories from the ethereal funk land.”
Now we’re not quite sure what all that means, so you’ll have to listen to the album yourselves and write your own poetry.
When I was a lad still at school and living at home in South London, the preferred music was my father’s. He loved piano jazz, and had an upright piano on which he played ‘standards’. This is his version of Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm recorded about ten years ago when he was 85.
I wasn’t allowed to touch the piano, nor the various recorded music players which were placed next to his piano. And these tracks are, with just a few variations, some of the music I had as the soundtrack of my early years.
01. Russ Conway – Pixilated Penguin Russ had 20 or so singles in the UK charts between 1957 and 1962, including two number ones. This track was the ‘B’ side to his biggest hit Side Saddle.
02. Dave Brubeck – Unsquare Dance A track from Time Further Out. I challenge you to clap along to the very end … I always fail!
03. Fats Waller – Viper’s Drag Fats was incredibly popular, but mainly for his songs such as I’m Going To Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter. I always preferred his instrumentals, such as this one about smoking marijuana. I don’t think my father made that connection.
04. Dill Jones Trio – Viper’s Drag Dill Jones was a Welsh stride pianist who emigrated to the USA in 1961. This track was on an ep, one I’ve never forgotten but can only find now on YouTube. Check out the amazing ethereal bars which, to my ears, elevate this version above the original.
05. Art Tatum – Ain’t Misbehavin’ Among Art Tatum‘s inspirations were Fats Waller, who wrote this number, and Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines. Many think he had superior improvisatory skills.
06. Earl Hines – I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues This was recorded in 1971: he started his professional career in 1920 and became “an immense influence on future generations” of jazz pianists.
07. Erroll Garner – Ja Da One of the most distinctive ‘voices’ in jazz piano history. I got to see him play in 1966 or 67, a gig I will never forget. His recordings are among Sri ‘Aga’ Hanuraga‘s favourites (as he told me while he ‘channelled’ the familiar Garner ‘voice’)
08. Count Basie & Oscar Peterson – These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)
Two favourite pianists with the Count’s rhythm section.
09. Duke Ellington – All Too Soon The Duke and the Count were both better known for their orchestras. The only other instrument on this recording is an acoustic bass.
10. Dudley Moore Trio – Love Song From An Imaginary Musical Dud was better known as a comedian in the UK, and a film star in the USA, yet as this recording from 1969 shows, he was a damn fine jazz pianist and composer too.
11. George Shearing – Delayed Action Probably the best known internationally of all British jazz pianists. Like Dill Jones, he emigrated to the USA, but in 1947.
12. Oscar Peterson – I Got Rhythm Recorded in 1951, when he was just 22, this version is new to me. It might have put my father off his piano playing pastime.
We originally wanted to feature a video of a short extract of a track from Erik’s recently released album he’d posted on his Farcebook page, but luckily WordPress doesn’t support FB videos. Thanks Erik for posting just over half of an eleven minute track on YouTube.
Draft of a potential full-length review
– by Terry Collins – Arlo Hennings
* “Age six Erik started to play an old piano in his grandmother’s house, he is self-taught and doesn’t come from a musical family but he could play piano and knew he would spend the rest of his life perfecting this gift.“
I don’t know about ‘perfection’, but I do know that the six tracks Erik has sent to IndoJazzia are one of the most engaging set of tunes I’ve heard in a long, long time. He tells us that he’s self-taught; he’s obviously listened to some music masters too.
As I try to write this, I find my right forefinger is dancing along my keyboard …. yes I type with two fingers one on each hand. That’s the only way I can ‘multi-task’: I’m bouncing in my seat, humming the melodies …. and producing loads of typos.
On tracks such as London Blues (about my home city) and Happy, his powerful left hand sets up a striding loop of minimalist boogie-woogie over which his right hand overlays memories plucked from the ethereal funk land. – London Blues: A standard progression that can be heard on countless recordings from early boogie woogie to the Rolling Stones. – Happy: This tune speaks of Scott Joplin, as does London Blues.
The mellow numbers, Hope, Song For My Mother, and the Love of My Life have a melodic classicism, emoting feelings such as Eric Satie produces. – Hope has the meditative loneliness quality about it that is very reminiscent of some of Philip Glass’ work. – Song For My Mother: every songwriter should write a song about their mother; it’s sheer candlelight magic. – Love of My Life has the makings of a hit song. Erik’s strongest quality is writing simple and memorable pop melodies, a rare talent.
Sofia is a song and dance number from Broadway and the ‘song’ ends with words unwritten by Fats Waller’s lyricist partner Andy Razaf. – This is a classic melody, mindful of early black and white Hollywood movies.
All of these songs are screaming for a soundtrack.
Update: Erik’s album will be distributed internationally by IndoJazzia.Musik from May 1st.
News that British jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and mentor extraordinaire died aged 72 of a heart attack on Friday night while playing at Saveurs Jazz Festival fills us with sadness.
His discography dates back to the late sixties, a time of free-form improvisatory sounds in the London jazz scene. In the early seventies, this began to merge with the ‘Canterbury Scene‘ and became jazz-fusion with such groups as Soft Machine, National Health and Ian Carr’s Nucleus.
For some, John Taylor was first noticed when he recorded for the ECM label as a sidesman on Jan Garbarek’s Places (1977) and Photo with Blue Sky, White Cloud, Wires, Windows and a Red Roof (1978). But then there was the trilogy of albums by Azimuth, with the trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, a Canadian long resident in the UK, and the incomparable singer Norma Winstone both of whom had emerged in the sixties.
It says much about Taylor’s personality that although his playing was integral as a sidesman, he also gave space to each member of his own groups. He had a northern European sensitivity, and every recording of his, and that includes the many shows that have been unofficially released as bootlegs and/or videos, demonstrates that he was not so much an entertainer as an explorer of his instrument, a true artist and a natural fit with ECM whose artists have a similar integrity and desire to let their chosen instruments speak for them, to us.
That he never came to Indonesia is of little matter now. After all, we have YouTube to offer such delights as this one ….