JazzBabies, did you catch the full Strawberry moon this weekend? The skies in San Diego were too cloudy, but I know it was up there. A little investigating gives me this bit of trivia – the Strawberry moon was once also called the Honey moon from whence came the long tradition of June weddings and, yup, the honeymoons that theoretically followed.
The Blue moon shows up in jazz tunes often, but we won’t have one of those again until 2018. In the meantime, you can practice your licks and be ready to celebrate when it happens. The Blue moon is a kind of anomaly, the second full moon in any one month.
I ran onto a different kind of anomaly this week with Youtube as I researched tunes. I found a great version of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” by Miles Davis and was already to post it when I read through the comments and learned that maybe this was not Miles at all. It did sound like him back in the day, but several commenters insisted it was someone else. So I looked up the someone else and those commenters were right. Unfortunately, our internet is filled with errors like this which often get compounded when one poster just copies something already up. Apparently this was the case, but thanks to sharp-eared jazz aficionados, we caught it in time. I love this old Jerome Kern tune and offer you the clip I originally found, but with the correct personnel – hella good Hannibal Peterson on trumpet, John Hicks on piano, Richard Davis on bass and Tatsuya Nakamura on drums. This is from Peterson’s 1992 Now’s the Time album. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-Wx-4c6i4Y
My college writing prof, a now well-published author told me once that it pained him to know that there were so many good writers in the world who were not getting published and would not make it in the big world of writing. The same is true of all the arts – excellent painters and sculptors who labor more or less in the backrooms of the art world, terrific dancers we’ll never know about and certainly plenty of talented musicians who are perhaps known locally but not far beyond that sphere. When I lived in Maine, a locale known more for folksy stuff than jazz, I met and heard Tom Snow, one of Maine’s best locally known jazz dudes. There’s actually more jazz than you’d think in that lovely but remote state. Branford Marsalis made his way up when I was living there, and I for a time lived over a jazz club in Portland, Café No, whose owner brought some of the best up from Boston and occasionally New York. A fellow named Don Doane was the godfather of a group of older musicians, and one of those was Ralph Norris. I found this clip of Snow and Norris at one of the many art galleries on the Maine Coast with a haunting version of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” This tune was just made for a mellow sax and here it is. http://tomsnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Tom-Snow-and-Ralph-Norris-play-Berkeley-Square-at-Mast-Cove-Galleries-SD.mp4?_=1
And here’s more from Maine. As Ethan Varian posted recently on Guitar World, “Chances are you’ve never heard of the late jazz guitarist Lenny Breau, but ask Pat Metheny or Tommy Emmanuel and they will surely tell he’s had a profound impact on nearly every guitarist who heard him play.” Breau was a kid from Maine, child of musical parents more inclined to country music, but Breau loved jazz. He played with his folks until he was a teenager and his dad punished him for wanting to insert jazz licks into the country tunes. He loved the work of Tal Farlow and taught himself to play by slowing down Farlow’s records so he could hear how Farlow did it. Eventually they played together. Breau moved to Canada where he’s still considered one of their best ever, but life was hard and he was one of the unfortunate greats to meet an early demise. He did a few recordings, mostly out of print now, but was never a commercial success the way we think of commercial successes these days. Still, when I heard him, my jazz-guitar lovin’ heart nearly stopped. I couldn’t get enough. Here’s one of the recordings – a two-for-one with Breau on “It Could Happen to You” followed by his take on McCoy Tyner’s “Visions.” Breau played a 7-string and remarked often that he played it like a piano. Indeed. (Before he could have a custom 7-string made, he rigged one with a length of fish line – Maine ingenuity at its best.) He also referenced wanting to play like the Impressionist artists and spoke of his interest in the colors and visual aspects of jazz. My kind of thinking, Lenny. There’s much more to the Lenny Breau story, but for now take a listen and rejoice.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLmpWzExBlg
I’m never sure what brings a certain tune to mind when I’m putting JazzCookie together, but this one wormed its way into my ear this week. It was popular many years ago when Bing Crosby sang it in a movie called Going My Way. Bing played a kindly young priest as I recall who had a voice like – well, like Bing Crosby. Frank Sinatra later recorded it on his album of Academy Award winning tunes and I’m going to turn it over to Frank today. It’s a song about learning to behave like the best person a person can be. If you happen to recognize any behavior coming out of the political scene these days, that’s completely and totally coincidental…she said. Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke’s happy “Swinging on a Star.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWKXU0ApF08
Sidebar on this one. In 1991, a bunch of actors and a director got together to make a heist movie with a great cast and a lousy story. The movie, Hudson Hawk got terrible reviews but there was a memorable scene in which the two thieves, Danny Aiello and Bruce Willis, demonstrated their method of timing the heist operations by using popular songs of the appropriate length. You just have to see this one. Danny and Bruce and a swingin’ soundtrack created and orchestrated by Michael Kamen and Robert Kraft. Sometimes all it takes is one memorable scene and for my money, this one’s great. “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8KvM3vZo0w
And that’s it for this week, JazzBabies. I’ve already started booking the talent for next time, so don’t go too far away, y’hear me. We’d miss ya if you weren’t with us. Have a great week, don’t be a pig or a mule, and always carry a clean handkerchief. Words from my old and dear Gram. We get to pass them on.