Jazzbabies, it’s a tough choice today between Spring and Daylight Savings Time. Once upon a time, Spring came first, but the calendar gods mucked up that perfectly good sequence a couple of years ago by slipping DST into the starting position.
Some days it’s hard to know where a person is and what’s going on in the new world. And since I just can’t wrap my mind or my heart around what seems to be the “new” America, I’ve decided to start my own country.
In my country, the national anthem will be led by Bill Evans. Need I say more? Mine will be the country of the creative and the groovy no matter what line of work you pursue. I’ve known auto mechanics who were amazingly creative in their solutions to my car’s problems. And some of them liked jazz a lot, too. I never put creativity into a small box.
Anyway, JazzBabies, here is a selection of tunes about Spring or daylight or savings or time itself. Time may be that one-way only task-master of our lives, but it’s the thing the jazz world cannot do without.
Leading off, one of the great jazz vocal groups of the Fifties, and I know they have other fans out there among you. I’ve written about them before, so I won’t document again their history or rise to popularity, but I will say that their popularity has not diminished much over the years even though the personnel have changed. If you don’t believe me, just ask anybody at one of the International Four Freshmen Society conventions. They meet this year in Louisville, Kentucky in August. Be there or be – you know. As for the music, The Oxford Companion to Popular Music said it best: “They sing with great variety, in quiet unison or full-throated harmony, using modern jazz harmonies and varied dynamics, a considerable advance on the typical close-harmony quartets that had preceded them.” Progress is sometimes very good. Here are the boys of the original quartet on “Day by Day,” released as a single in June 1955.
From the Freshmen to Ernestine Anderson, an incredible jazz talent who left us last week. When people say heaven will be a big reunion with your family, I want to be in the jazz family. If I’m going to spend eternity anyplace, I want it to be the biggest and best jam ever. Before she left, Ernestine did some of the best jazz vocal work ever recorded. She often worked with her old classmate and Seattle titan, Quincy Jones, and she gave him a lot of credit for pulling jazz out of the doldrums that hit in the 60s when so much other music took center stage. From her album I Love Being Here with You, Miss Ernestine Anderson with a torchy “Spring Is Here.” We love being here with you, Miss Ernestine.
Cole Porter, Stan Getz and Bill Evans get together now for a great recording of the American classic, “Night and Day.” This is from the album Stan Getz and Bill Evans, one of those “recorded then, released now” albums, recorded for Verve in 1964 and released in 1973. One wonders. Ron Carter on bass and Elvin Jones on drums round out the team. It’s a good one.
Next up is a flat-out straight-ahead recording to salute the gods and goddesses of Time, who refuse to be intimidated by anything like clocks. Time, as we know from watching Casablanca as many times as we have, goes by. And it’s lovely to be able to while it away with a few more of the jazz masters, in this case John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Artur Taylor on a sweet favorite, “Time After Time.” (I tell myself that I’m so lucky to be loving you.) I could listen to this until the sun goes down whenever that is tonight and for a few hours after. From Trane’s 1958 Stardust album. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsJVYryqIFI
And to close out today’s program, something a little different but not too much different. I wanted something about savings and thought not of daylight but of money, a good thing to save. Which led me to think of a few tunes like “Three Coins in the Fountain,” and “I Found a Million Dollar Baby” (in a five and ten cents store), but I decided to go for “Pennies from Heaven.” Then, fate walked in and introduced me to this next number, a great and jazzy recording by Les Paul and – wait for it – Merle Haggard. I did some research and it seems that this was recorded live one night about ten years ago at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York where Paul held forth for years. Apparently, this night while on the road opening for Bob Dylan, Haggard let slip that he had never met Les Paul. Whoever was with him that night (I couldn’t find that reference) was surprised and took Haggard to the Iridium to meet the great Les Paul. Haggard got on the stage and the two played “Trouble in Mind” and “Pennies From Heaven.” As you can see from the video clip, the audience went wild. Haggard said later it was the most important night of his life. The mutual admiration is clear.
I found this story online and I’m not sure who to credit, but it’s a good one, so thanks to whoever gets the thanks. I was blown away by the performance, one of those wonderfully serendipitous things that happen in the jazz world to remind us that the lines between different musical genres are so often dotted. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsD_pMxk6ik
That’s it for this week, JazzBabies. If you love Daylight Savings Time, enjoy your extra hour of light this evening. If you hate it, remember the Serenity Prayer, because you probably can’t change it. I’m somewhere in the middle – my strategy is to leave my clocks right where they are for a few days – or sometimes weeks – until I feel the need to change them. Of course, this means I have to make some mental notes to get where I need to be on time, but in a city, you never get anyplace on time anyway.