Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February 21, 2015

On Saturday, it was announced that the inimitable Clark Terry had died at the age of 94. I’ll have some of his work cued up at the end of this post.

A good number showed this week: Wes on tenor, Steve M. and Steve H. on alto, Jack D and Todd on trumpet, Carl on trombone, Annie and Dick on vocals, Sam on bass and, in the absence of Gene, Jack K on drum. Yes, drum. Jack pulled a snare out of the closet and his brushes from the car. Given the size of the set, Wes and Steve H also did a little time-keeping while Jack played trumpet.

Sam started us out off-book with Amazing Grace. Jack K. called Misty (I-277). Wes moved us on to Blues for Alice (I-55).  Steve H. was inspired by a tune from the previous week, It’s De-Lovely (III-213).  Jack D. asked for the pretty Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (II-355). Todd pulled out the old standard Bye Bye Blackbird (II-73). Steve M. went with the classic I’ll Remember April (I-197), which is hard to do in the depths of a February freeze.  Sam stretched us so much with Solar (I-363) that we decided to take another round on it to get more comfortable. As long as we were remembering, Jack K wanted I Remember You (II-179). Annie started off Singer Time with All of You. Carl followed with his only request of the day, Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West (II-408). The great standards went back and forth between the vocalists: Easy Living (I-127) for Annie; How High the Moon (I-180) for Dick. Back to Annie, it was Easy to Love (I-128); Dick responded with Have You Met Miss Jones (I-172). Annie took another call, Dearly Beloved (I-103). Steve M. tried a tune we were unfamiliar with, Detour Ahead, which gave us a good workout. Dick went with the more familiar I Could Write A Book (I-180). Annie sang the lovely For All We Know (I-145). We rocked a bit on Dick’s request, Red Top, and went out with Annie singing I Can’t Get Started (I-184).

This week’s Participant’s Picks

Sam wanted to send me a link to Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, Samba De Uma Nota So

but he accidentally sent this link to Stan Getz and Bill Evans, But Beautiful

Steve M. suggested George Shearing performing Lullaby of Birdland:

Wes put in a request for Along Came Betty. I found this one by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, naturally.

Dick suggested Johnny Green and Edward Heyman’s Out of Nowhere. No particular arrangement, he said; it’s just a great tune. So here are a few good examples.
Lena Horne and Teddy Wilson:

As promised, your scribe offers a few numbers in tribute to the late Clark Terry. The most remarkable thing about him, for me, anyhow, was that you knew within two notes who was playing—fast or slow, flugelhorn or trumpet, muted or open, you could always tell it was Clark Terry. He had a sound, and a joy in performing, like no other.

Sam’s accidental link reminded me of this version of But Beautiful, a duet with Oscar Peterson:

From the same album, Slow Boat to China, just because I like it.

Trumpet Mouthpiece Blues, with Paul Gonsalves

A rollicking version of Blueport, with Gerry Mulligan at The Village Vanguard

No tribute would be complete without a version of Mumbles. I have the original version, Incoherent Blues, with Oscar Peterson, then one with a very old Woody Herman and a very Young Herd, Clark playing his later upside-down flugelhorn.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 14, 2015

We had an interesting mix of people on Valentine's Day. Despite our old stalwarts, Sam and Gene, off doing something more important, we had a good showing, and people shifting around on instruments to  get enough of a rhythm section. For example, when Jack D, on trumpet, started us out by calling Misty, we had Jack K on drums, Steve M and Steve H on alto, Wes on tenor, and Todd picking out bass notes on the piano. After Steve H finished a solo, he took over at the piano so Todd could play trumpet. They did some shifting back and forth for a few songs. Todd even played a bit of drums so Jack K could play some horn. Later on, Carl (trombone) and Annie (vocals) arrived, followed soon by Bob on guitar, much to everyone's relief.

After Misty, Steve H asked for Makin' Whoopee. Wes followed with Groovin' High. Todd pulled out the sinuous and strenuous Oleo. Steve M. brought us back with the standard All The Things You Are. We played a blues arrangement for four horns to work a bit on our ensemble chops. Annie, sans microphone, wanted Corcovado, a.k.a. Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars; we played in that spirit. Back to Jack D., we had a go at Cry Me A River. Annie, looking through the books for ideas, found It's De-Lovely. The next call came from Carl for Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West. Steve H. talked Annie into taking a stab at Midnight Sun, which is a beautiful tune that, at the pace we set, takes way too long time to play. So Annie next chose They Say It's Wonderful at a nice medium swing. Steve M. liked the thought of There Will Never Be Another You. We wrapped up the afternoon with Satin Doll.

Amazingly, not a single person thought to call My Funny Valentine. Therefore--and because no one suggested any recording picks--I am including links here to several versions of that song.

Ella Fitzgerald

Chet Baker

and this slightly strange artsy-looking thing.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Al Cohn and Zoot Sims

Oscar Peterson

Paul Desmond

Stan Kenton

I'm sure I could find a million more. Your favorite version not here? Send me a link.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

February 7, 2015

It was one of those weeks where lots of people showed up, but not all at the same time. For example, just as the singers showed up, the bass player had to leave. Doesn't stop us. On occasion, we don't have a room to play in. Doesn't stop us; we played out in the central area. Turns out, people passing by kinda like it.

This week, we started with Sam controlling the bass, and Gene the drums. We had Jack K and Jack D on trumpet, Steve M and Steve H on alto, and Wes on tenor. Carl, on trombone, came in later with Annie and Dick on vocals.

Sam got things underway with Brazil (III, 60) which, while full of whole notes, proved to be harmonically challenging to the soloists.  Jack K thought we'd try something a bit more familiar with Four (I, 149); Jack D topped that with the even more familiar Fly Me To The Moon (II, 135). Steve M asked some passersby, who had applauded our last effort, for a request; one woman asked for Autumn Leaves, and she sang with us. We hope she enjoyed it as much as we did. Steve H pulled out an original blues arrangement, which we are considering for the Freedom Jazz Festival. Sam had another interesting pick with Lady Bird (I, 235). Gene pulled up Wave (I-431), another tune which, though familiar, seemed to really make us work. Wes finally got a chance, and called Blues for Alice ((I, 55).

By now, Sam had to pack up, and we had to make a go of things without bass, guitar or piano. THe two Jacks were not far behind. The remaining horns tried to compensate by playing chords behind soloists. Under these circumstances, Carl, freshly arrived, chose Blue Monk ((I, 52), a very straightforward blues tune, despite how it sounds when Monk plays it. Annie, all rested up from her recent jazz cruise, and having heard we had played Wave, asked for another chorus so she could sing it. She then moved to the very different Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? (II, 108; Miss New Orleans was not available for comment.) Dick took back-to-back songs with classics Imagination (II, 195) and Mean To Me (III, 274). Annie and Dick alternated with Let There Be Love (III, 236) and Like Someone In Love, respectively. While the vocalists took a moment to relax, Steve M suggested Lullaby of Birdland (I, 256). Annie and Dick ping-ponged again, singing I've Got You Under My Skin (III, 190), Blame It On My Youth (II, 51), Easy To Love (II, 128),  and I Could Write A Book (I, 186). Steve M thought we might have some fun with Have You Met Miss Jones? (I, 172; not to be confused with her mother, Mrs. Jones, who apparently had a thing going on with someone named Billy). Annie closed things out with a swinging rendition of Bye Bye Baby (III, 68).

And, of course, thanks to the generous ladies from the party in the big room for their offer of fresh veggies and cupcakes. Delicious!

Participants' Picks
I forgot to ask our participants this week for recommendations of great recordings. Sam, however, thoughtfully emailed one in advance, some local color with the Brad Bellows/Dave Graf Quintet on Gerry Mulligan's Blight of the Fumble Bee.

Jack D sent one along in the comments section during the week, so I bring it to the fore here: Chet Baker playing (and singing) Almost Blue.

My own picks are inspired by these two, and our visiting singer. 
First is Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan playing the original Blight of the Fumble Bee.
The second is a recording of Paul Desmond and Chet Baker on Autumn Leaves, with Hubert Laws, Bob James, Ron Carter, and Steve Gadd.