“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.”
It may seem odd to begin a jazz post with a quote from Anne of Green Gables (M.L. Montgomery), but it seems so right for the month and the weather. Sad hymns and passionate wind-songs…Now, there’s music with for you. Shoot, there’s jazz for you. The hymns of Bill Evans, the passionate wind-songs of John Coltrane.
But it’s not only November, JazzBabies, it’s Thanksgiving week. I know you are not all in the U.S., but here Thanksgiving week is a big thing. And Thanksgiving dinners continue to call friends and family together for food, football, and festivities.
Lest we forget, Thanksgiving is a day for gratitude and I’m including a few tunes here around that compelling concept as well as food.
But before I jump into that, let’s get in the Thanksgiving mood with a little sing-along. Surely, you must have sung “Over the River and Through the Woods” sometime in your young life, no matter how long ago that might be. So, here’s a jazzy little karaoke version. Don’t be shy. Sing like nobody’s listening. Okay, grandmother might be listening. Grab the kids and any passing neighbors. Altogether now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlzOD717rFY
Okay, we got that out of our system.
Last year about this time I was in an art show with the theme Gratitude. I had an idea that most of the entries would be Norman Rockwell kinds of paintings or, given where I was, churches and such. But my mind turned to family and friends, so I created collages around Bob Hope’s signature tune. Bob Hope was in the collages, too. But here’s another old-timer, Frank Sinatra, to sing the song with both old and newly-minted lyrics just for him. It’s a live performance, beautifully done, and at the end you’ll see him thank the people who helped him along the way. “Thanks for the Memory,” and for the music, Frank. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWcaSLjaKDU
I don’t know what’s on your menu for Thanksgiving dinner, but whether it’s French-fried potatoes, red ripe tomatoes, fish cakes, bacon or turkey and dressing, don’t forget the “Frim Fram Sauce”! Here’s the chef, Nat King Cole, to tell you all about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-6c1PPF2dc
When it comes to remembering and being grateful for old friends, Simon and Garfunkel wrapped this one up and tied it with a bow…time goes by, the days grow colder and suddenly we’re older. Preserve your memories, JazzBabies…This tune is not jazz, but it’s lovely and we believe in diversity. This one goes especially to a couple of jazz-loving friends in South Carolina. John and Robin, Happy Thanksgiving. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul2hSba5pOs
My jazz-lovin’ friend in New Jersey, Joe Lang, sends me notes and ideas for JazzCookie and one of them was this fine tune by guitarist Johnny Smith. Smith was one of the cool cats in New York but retired early in 1958, moved to Colorado and opened a record store. It happens. One of his popular hits might be one you remember, a hot little number from 1954, titled “Walk, Don’t Run.” Smith’s recording didn’t get a lot of attention, but in 1960 and again in 1964 a group called the Ventures put it on the map. After his wife died in childbirth in 1957, Smith continued to play the Manhattan scene with musicians like Stan Getz and Zoot Sims. The New York Times deemed him a “demi-god of the guitar,” but he left in 1958 to become a full-time dad for his little daughter and never looked back. He’s here now with one of those November tunes, “Autumn Nocturne.” You decide whether it’s a sad hymn or a passionate wind-song. Or we might agree, it’s just beautiful jazz. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ahheq32NPo
Finally, JazzBabies, I’m sending my own thank you to all of you. Janis Ian is here to help me with it. And I thank her for that. Pay it forward to all the people you love and want to thank. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNBppBJsgDo
And that’s it for Thanksgiving week, JazzBabies. I send wishes for a happy – and jazzy – holiday wherever you are and whoever you’re with. And I send thanks for tuning in.