standard

All posts tagged standard

John Lewis’ sublime and serene title track Django is dedicated to the memory of guitarist extraordinaire Django Reinhardt. This musical paean aptly recaptures the essence of Reinhardt’s enigmatic gypsy-like nature, especially evident within Jackson’s leads, which emerge from the thoughtful opening dirge with a refined, warm tone throughout. Reinhardt’s playfulness is recalled in Lewis’ well-placed interjections between and beneath Jackson’s lines.”

So wrote one reviewer (not this one) of the Modern Jazz Quartet’s playing on their 1956 album.

Judge for yourselves if they still had it in 1982.

Download this compilation and consider how each musician plays the same tune in their own way.

In alphabetical order they are Bobo Stenson & Mike Mainieri / Dorothy Ashby / Grant Green / Joe Pass / John Lewis & Svend Asmussen / Nial Djuliarso / Oscar Peterson / Roland Kirk.

A classic men’s pork pie hat from the 1940s. Construction: felt wool. Hatband: petersham ribbon. Leather sweatband on inside. Manufacturer: Bond. Note that the ‘bow’ in the back of the hat conceals a small button on a string which winds around the hat: in windy weather the button would be attached to the lapel of a jacket to keep the hat from blowing away.

Lester Young, the great tenor saxophonist, wore one when he was with Billie Holiday.(video)
Gardenia floating on a sacred lake of tears, pork-pie hat flattened by the weight of the world.” Kamau Daaoud

Two months after ‘Prez’ died in March 1959 aged just 50, bassist Charles Mingus wrote an elegy dedicated to him for his album Mingus Ah Um.

Goodbye Pork Pie Hat has since become a jazz standard, and not just for bassists as this downloadable compilation from our archives shows. The artists in playing order are Charles Mingus, Marcus Miller, Andy Summers, Jeff Beck, Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, John McLaughlin & Christian Escoude, Ralph Towner, Pentangle, and Joni Mitchell.

A couple of weeks ago, sometime around midnight, I posted a bonus compilation which has been downloaded quite a few times. Given that I have a number of other oft repeated titles in my jazz archives, I figured another one tune compilation was about due.

Blue In Green was written by …erm … Miles Davis or Bill Evans. It was the third track on Miles’ Kind of Blue, released in 1959. Bill Evans was the pianist on that album, and on his Portrait in Jazz recorded in the same year and released the next the tune is credited to ‘Davis-Evans’. Twenty years later, Evans said in a radio interview that he’d written it all himself.

Both have now passed on, but what we irrefutably do have is a wonderful tune which bears repeated listening. And that’s what I’m offering you today.

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01. Miles Davis – Blue In Green
02. Bill Evans Trio – Blue In Green
03. Charlie Mariano – Blue in Green
04. Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison, Jack DeJohnette – Blue in Green
(Note: DeJohnette, the drummer, plays the piano on this track.)
05. Shirley Horn – Blue In Green
06. Mick Goodrick & Joe Diorio – Blue In Green
07. John McLaughlin Trio – Blue In Green
08. Gary Burton & Stephane Grappelli – Blue In Green
09. Cassandra Wilson – Sky and Sea (Blue In Green)
(Note: Cassandra Wilson wrote the lyrics.)
10. Miles Davis + various arists – Blue In Green
(Note: from the album Miles From India, a pan-global collaboration.)
11. Arild Andersen – Green Shading Into Blue

Chet Baker died one month after this sublime performance …

No, that’s not a typo in the title, but I did start a search for covers of the Thelonious Monk classic tune which is the most recorded jazz standard composed by a jazz musician.


Midnight is a magic hour, both a start and a finish and is generally quiet, except for drunken revellers at weekends and December 31st. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it less prosaically …

Midnight! The outpost of advancing day!
The frontier town and citadel of night!
The watershed of Time, from which the streams
Of Yesterday and To-morrow take their way,
One to the land of promise and of light,
One to the land of darkness and of dreams!

And jazz musicians have found ways to express it in different time signatures.

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01. Port Said – Countdown to Midnight
02. Mary Lou Williams – Midnight Stomp
03. Eddie Lang & Lonnie Johnson – Midnight Call Blues
04. Tuba Skinny – Midnight Blues
05. Rod Harris Jr. – Midnight Blue
06. Trisum – Guitar in the Midnight
07. Al di Meola – Bianca’s Midnight Lullaby
08. Ralph Towner – Midnight Blue….Red Shift
09. Cosmic Groove Orchestra – Midnight Tango
10. Bruford-Levin Upper Extremities – Cracking the Midnight Glass
11. Terri Lyne Carrington w. Nguyên Lê – Burning of the Midnight Lamp
12. Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr – Midnight Walk

If you want to hear sixteen different versions of the Monk classic, click here

Our research into the History of Jazz in Indonesia is currently focussed on the pre-war years. From 1919 up until 1941, one tune is cited more than any other as being very popular at the social gatherings, be they at high end hotels such as Hotel des Indes or at weekend matinees at Tjikini Swimming Baths: Tiger Rag. In a jazz band competition held in Batavia in 1934, Brown’s Sugar Babies version “made the audience so very excited that the jury had no choice but to award them the first prize.”

In an interview (track 1) with musicologist Alan Lomax, Jelly Roll Morton explained how Tiger Rag came about from his adaptation of French quadrilles  and other music forms.

Lady Jersey introduces the quadrille to England

Morton also claimed to have written and named the tune. He may have done, but there has been some controversy since. A competing claim came from Nick LaRocca, leader of the Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band (ODJB) who recorded the first jazz sides in 1917. On 17th August that year, they recorded Tiger Rag for Aeolian-Vocalion Records, but the company’s disk format was not popular and didn’t sell well. The tune was, however, copyrighted, published, and credited to the band members Nick LaRocca, Eddie Edwards, Henry Ragas, Tony Sbarbaro, and Larry Shields.

They recorded the tune a second time on 25 March 1918 for Victor Records, backed with Skeleton Jangle as the A side. It was a big national hit and established the tune as a jazz standard.

For some, the tune has been an obsession. Andrew Jon Sammut has a blog and Nicholas Christopher wrote a novel. Serious musicians may value Thomas Grady Hartsock’s academic thesis, A Song Through Time: Tiger Rag and the Twentieth Century, which was published just last year. Starting with ODJB, he casts his words over four other artists, including Les Paul with Mary Ford, and Wynton Marsalis.

In 1954, producer Fred Quimby and director Tex Avery released an animated cartoon Dixieland Droopy, which was banned though we can’t find out why. And you can’t see it now on your computers either because every copy uploaded to YouTube appears to be ‘broken’ around the half way point. So hold that tiger, and keep your eye out for it on the Cartoon Network.

In 1965, the Danish Esso oil company issued a vinyl single and like their British counterparts, although presumably in Danish, exhorted Danes to ‘put a tiger in their (car) tanks’.

Harry DaCosta later wrote lyrics to the instrumental, and in 1931 it became a million-seller and a No.1 national hit for the Mills Brothers .

By now, you may be wondering what this all has to do with Indojazzia. Our compilation is in chronological order of recording, originally ending with Teddy Wilson. In the mid-fifties when the yet to be anointed ‘Godfather of Indonesian Jazz’ was still in his teens, Bubi Chen undertook a two-year correspondence course with the Wesco School of Music in New York and Teddy Wilson was his instructor/mentor.

We cannot find a recording of Bubi Chen playing Tiger Rag, so we hope that this recording of “Bubby” playing another ragtime tune in 1998 will do.

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