Bare Naked Ladies, Beatles, Bill Evans, Billie Holiday, Black Friday, Blue Note, Boswell Sisters, Captain and Tennille, cole porter, Connee Boswell, Count Basie, Hank Mobley, jazz, Macklemore, shopping, Tahta Menezes, Thanksgiving, Tommy Flanagan
The logical topic for a music melange Thanksgiving week would be food, but no one has ever confused me with a logical person, so I’m off on my own kick instead. And that kick is the other, more recent development regarding Thanksgiving. In the days of yore, we had Thanksgiving dinner and then the men either got in arguments, watched football or fell asleep in the living room while the women gathered in the kitchen to gossip, wash the stacks of dishes, drink sherry on the sly, and plan Christmas parties. And everyone agreed that it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Aunt Martha’s pecan pie.
Then we all went home.
Oh, but what a difference a generation makes. Helped along by the buck-lovin’ corporations who have promoted the New Thanksgiving ), we now have Black Friday which has morphed to Black Thursday and Friday and which just wouldn’t be the same without a midnight run to catch the sales at (fill-in the big store name). Rumor has it the stores themselves will serve Thanksgiving dinner next year, so you can eliminate all that bothersome family stuff.
Not to be left out of the new tradition, I opted this week for a musical tribute not to food but to Shopping. It’s not easy to find Shopping songs, at least not jazzy songs, but I’ve come up with a few I think you’ll enjoy, including some that were entirely new to me. I vetoed Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” song, Bare Naked Ladies’ “Shopping,” and other possibilities like the Captain and Tennille’s “Shop Around” and the lovely but not very jazzy, “Who Will Buy” from the score of “Oliver.” I considered “Pennies from Heaven,” but even an umbrellaful of pennies doesn’t buy a lot these days.
So, here’s what came up instead.
Back in 1931 this little tune by Harry Warren with lyrics by Mort Dixon and Billy Rose was introduced in the Broadway musical Billy Rose’s Crazy Quilt, which opened in May, 1931. Fanny Brice sang it there, but for us, here are the Boswell Sisters – Connee, “Vet” and Martha on the Brunswick label. Connee, of course, went on to be a popular jazz vocalist who sang with most of the greats. Ella said she was strongly influenced by Connee Boswell and that’s sayin’ something. For now, “I Found a Million Dollar Baby.” (In a five and ten cent store.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhCx_DnRHuY
Some of the Thanksgiving sales start around two or three in the morning, which is way too early (or late) for this Jazz Cookie. But as long as we’re up, let’s catch the Bill Evans trio on one of Bill’s compositions appropriate for the hour: “Very Early,” from his 1962 “Moon Beams” album. Bill with Chuck Israels on bass and Paul Motian on drums. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOjEEaUNyC4
Cole Porter wrote this one and Billie sang it best. Rumor has it that couples got into fights when Billie sang this one, because the guys were so caught up in the possibilities. Here she is with her 1952 orchestra with something you’ll never see advertised in a neighborhood shopping paper, “Love for Sale.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp6jvMgLGMQ
Brazilian jazz vocalist Tahta Menezes gives this Beatles tune a bossa beat to argue the point in a delightfully jazzy cover, “Can’t Buy Me Love. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmV_oGI2YQ8
Tommy Flanagan was an American jazz pianist born in Detroit, Michigan, particularly remembered as an accompanist of Ella Fitzgerald. Flanagan was known for his modest but exceptionally musical style that captured the best of jazz: harmonics, sophistication, invention, and a blues sense, among others. If that big store is out of love or any other thing you had your heart set on, you may have to take a raincheck and here’s Tommy with George Mraz on bass and Kenny Washington on drums with a tune by that very name “Raincheck. This is from his 1989 album, “Jazz Poet.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5xkgi8YlBQ
Even though you’re busy shopping, keep your ears open for Blue Light and other great specials during the night. If it happens to be a little after nine, you might even hear a tune by Earl Warren played here by Count Basie with Warren, Coleman Hawkins, Sweets Edison, Buck Clayton, Jo Jones and a whole list of other fine talent on “9:20 Special.” Warren might have been thinking about a train, but we’re thinking about bargains!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0rClq9Sj7U
Of course, when all is said and done, we know that the good things in life don’t come from the stores, no matter how great the specials or how out-of-control the crowds. From his 1961 Blue Note “Workout” album with Grant Green, Wynton Kelly and Philly Joe Jones, Hank Mobley reminds us that “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” As one commenter put it, “It is very rare that one hears a Blue Note Record made between 1955 and 1965 without smiling and tapping to the grooviest music in all of Jazz.” Amen to that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOEVqWWH4rQ
Have a cool, groovy Thanksgiving, JazzBabies, wherever you are, whoever you’re with – alone or together. As someone else once said of jazz: “The music never lets you down.”