Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 20, 2015

The MacRae Park Bunny Brunch for kids is coming up next Saturday, March 28, from 10 to noon. The Workshop participants will be playing a few Easter and Spring-related tunes for the grown-ups. Maybe we'll see you there, or afterwards if we keep playing.

This week, though, was just a standard workshop. Sam (bass), Wes (tenor), Steve M (alto), Greg (guitar), yours truly (alto) were there at the beginning. Todd was also there, bringing in not only his trumpet, but his guitar. He and Steve M started noodling around on All The Things You Are (I-22) while the rest of us got set up and joined in. We moved on to Greg's pick on the next page, Always (I-23), which we played in 3/4 time rather than the written 4/4. Our arrangement of Four Brothers was Sam's call, with Todd, Steve M, Steve H and Wes trying to be Zoot, Stan, Herbie and Serge without the same horns.

We were joined at this time by newcomer Rich, who brought his flugelhorn and, when that proved to have a balky valve, his cornet. Sam called another, The Song Is You (I-374). Wes decided on Charlie Parker's Blues For Alice (I-55). Rich's first turn came up, and he wanted Song for My Father (I-373). Todd called for a down-tempo version of There Will Never Be Another You (I-407). Your scribe, up next, changed books with Old Devil Moon (II-297). Annie, Carl and Dick arrived in the meantime, and Annie joined in a chorus.

Annie felt like trying out a lot of new things this week, beginning with the funky Feel Like Makin' Love (III-119); turns out we're not a particularly funky group. Dick brought us back to normal with Come Rain Or Come Shine (II-88). Alright, OK, You Win (I-24) was Annie's next new choice, and went better. Dick picked one of his favorites, Mean To Me (III-274). Steve M finally got a chance and called It Might As Well Be Spring (II-205). Annie's next new tune was the old standard Sentimental Journey (II-343). Next up was Jobim's Meditation (I-266). To prepare for the Bunny Brunch, we took a look at Easter Parade (I-126) and finished up with Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most (III-374), which is way too much of a downer to play at the Brunch, but is still an interesting song.

Participant's Picks
Lots of people had contributions this week. Check out some of these recordings.

Sam: John Coltrane, A Love Supreme

Carl: Nina Simone, Why? (The King of Love Is Dead)

Wes: Benny Golson, Along Came Betty

Greg: Thelonious Monk, Round Midnight
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yg7aZpIXRI (Video, live in Norway, 1966)

Steve M: It Might As Well Be Spring. Lots of them available. Try these.
I can’t find a video of my favorite version, by local singer Karrin Allyson, but you can listen to it here if you have a Spotify account:

Dick: April In Paris (vocal). Here are a few good ones.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y87nu14ZLU4 (Doris Day, from 1952 film)

Annie: Roberta Flack, Feel Like Makin’ Love

Woody Herman, Four Brothers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK_9otl3sZ0 (Zoot, Serge, Herbie, & Stan)


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 14, 2015

What a turnout! Vocals and rhythm and horns—oh, my! We had Gene on drums, Sam on bass and trumpet, Greg on guitar, Steve M and Steve H on altos, Wes on tenor, Todd on trumpet, Jack K on trumpet and drums, Carl on trombone, Ray on bass, and Annie and Dick on vocals. With the number of people who showed up--and were actually all in the room at the same time--we had to run more solos per song, so there were fewer songs this week. But everyone was in good form, and a very enjoyable afternoon ensued.

Starting with Sam, Gene, the Steves, Wes, Todd and Jack, we played an arrangement of Jimmy Giuffre’s Four Brothers. It’s always good for us to work through things written with harmonies, and anything that is new; Sam likes to stretch us whenever it is feasible. We agreed to return to it another week. Gene then suggested Milt “Bags” Jackson’s Bags’ Groove (Real Book II-30), a groove everyone really settled into with extended solos.  Wes called for another groove, this time Dizzy’s Groovin’ High (I-166). Yours truly requested Indiana (II-201), which swung along at a good clip. Jack changed the tempo with a ballad, My Romance; he took the statement of the tune and another chorus, and closed out playing the tune again with only horn chords behind him. Todd chose All The Things You Are (I-22) at a nice medium swing. Steve M decided to challenge us with Round Midnight (I-345), which sounds a lot easier to play than it is, with some intriguing chord changes.

By this time, Ray had arrived, followed closely by Annie, Carl, and Dick.  Annie got us moving with It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing ((I-224) which, it turns out, is true. Sam the Challenger pulled out Jeannine (II-212) to test our modal chops (mine are none too developed). Fortunately, Dick followed up with In A Mellow Tone (I-206). Trying one she had not previously done with the group, Annie sang Just In Time (II-222), though it sounded as though we had been together for a long time. On his turn, Dick decided on Out of Nowhere (I-318). Annie likes to add flourishes and use her classical voice on certain songs; Poor Butterfly (III-324) gets a Madame Butterfly introduction. We rocked on through Sam’s next pick, St. Thomas (II-339). The beautiful My One And Only Love (I-288) was Dick’s next choice. We tried another that Annie had wanted to check out, but hadn’t covered before, Rodgers and Hart’s Lover (II-256), in 4/4 and 3/4. As 3:00 approached, we took on I’m Confessin’ behind Dick’s vocals.

At this point, our usual end time, your scribe had to leave, but most everyone else remained behind for more fun.

Despite the large turnout, I got hardly any requests for this week’s Participant Picks.

Dick said that the piece he couldn’t think of last week was When I Look In Your Eyes, with Anthony Newley singing to a seal. Unfortunately, I cannot locate it on YouTube, so if anyone knows where we can view it, please send word.

Annie, having just sung it, suggested Just In Time. I have the movie version with Dean Martin and Julie Holiday, and another one with just Dino and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.

The ever-watchful Sam sent his in ahead of time, and you just never know what to expect from him. Here we have Snarky Puppy playing Lingus (We Like It Here):

I have a fondness for blues tunes that don’t quite follow the traditional chord structure. This all started when I first heard Ham Hock Blues, with Lionel Hampton, Zoot Sims, Teddy Wilson, George Duvivier, and Buddy Rich. The final four, instead of the usual V7, IV7, I change, goes #V7, V7, I.