Well, JazzBabies, happy Mother’s Day to y’all. You either are one, are married to one, or had one. I think that covers the territory.
People say this is a holiday invented by Hallmark to sell greeting cards, and that may be true. When it comes to business, anything’s possible. But for a lot of us, it’s a holiday we look forward to when families get together to celebrate families. So far, Hallmark hasn’t come up with Family Day (as far as I know), so for now this one, along with Father’s Day, fills the bill.
I celebrated with my older daughter, my two granddaughters and our extended family friend, noted blues singer Jeannie Cheatham, with brunch at one of LaJolla’s favorite old hangouts today. It took us four hours, but we got through waffles, gifts and a lot of catching up, stories, and laughing. Five happy women. Jeannie sings the blues, but you’re never blue around this woman in person.
On another subject, I ran across a new book this week , Love for Sale, by David Hajdu, music critic and professor at Columbia University, that’s been a great surprise and a real treat. Hajdu is also the author of Positively 4th Street (Dylan, Baez, Farina, et al) and Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn. The book is billed as one about pop music in America, but Hajdu knows his stuff and it’s much more than the title allows, including a lot about jazz, its relationship to “pop” music, show tunes and such, along with talk about the difference between listening to music and analyzing music – emotional vs intellectual appreciation.
He writes about being a young man interviewing an older musician who asked if there was something on the jukebox he’d want to hear. “I was thinking, Well, sure – “Ruby Tuesday” – but I said, ‘No.’ I didn’t want him to listen to the Stones and tell me, What a pretty song, or How interesting that they’ve employed the Renaissance woodwind instrument the recorder, or Did you know that the bowing technique they’re using on the bass is called arco? I didn’t want him liking my music any more than I liked his song….Like a million kids around the world, I thought of the song as mine and mine alone.”
I feel the same way about listening to my favorite jazz musicians. Chord changes, progressions and all that are important to the musicians, but me – I’m a listener. Leave the technical stuff for fellow musicians. I know it counts, but don’t be the person who wants to explain a sunset at a romantic moment.
Another listener and jazz writer, Joe Lang from New Jersey, sent a note about the O’Day post last week along with a recommendation for vocalist Jackie Paris. “I think you’ll like him.” So I checked Mr. Paris out, and I did like him. It’s nice to share, so here he is for you on one of my all-time favorite jazz tunes, “Skylark,” from his album of the same name. I hope you like him, too. And thanks, Joe! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9250GYwg-w
Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd got together back in 1962 to record the new jazz traveling north from Brazil. Their album Jazz Samba was recorded at All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C. that year. I like the idea of all those souls shakin’ their moneymakers to “O Pato” as rendered by Getz and Byrd with Keter Betts and Gene (Joe) Byrd on bass and Buddy Deppenschmidt and Bill Reichenbach on drums and percussion. “O Pato” – the duck. Listen for the “quack, quack, quack…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1zZqBEorIM
Eden Atwood was one of the youngest artists to ever sign with Concord records after jazz legend Marian McPartland heard Atwood and sent a copy of her first self-produced album to Concord. Atwood hails from an artistic family – her father, Hubbard Atwood was a composer and her grandfather was author A.B. Guthrie, known for his way with words in a number of beautiful novels. Atwood is new to JazzCookie, and I welcome her with open arms, open heart and open ears on this beautiful Rodgers and Hart tune, “It Never Entered My Mind.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vH6qfve4l8
Back in 2000 – oh, so long ago! – I lived in Seattle where I was a faithful listener to what was then KPLU, the best jazz station for many miles around with a jazz deejay named Paul Nelson with whom I began a friendship over jazz and poetry. KPLU has disappeared into something else these days and I’m not sure where Paul Nelson landed, but one of the youngest and best musicians to come out of that area back then was pianist/composer Aaron Parks. His first album, First Romance, was played often on KPLU, and I eventually became acquainted with both Aaron and his mom, who was his biggest fan and promoter. The family moved to New York a few years later where Aaron has continued to make his mark in the jazz world after a great start with Terence Blanchard. Here’s the title tune from that first album, one of Aaron’s compositions – he was about 17 when he did this one. Aaron Parks with Larry Holloway on bass and Julian MacDonough on drums. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5zLkvKBkBk
You probably know Herb Ellis as one of the great jazz guitarists of our time. He was, indeed. He was also a composer and while a member of a group who called themselves “Soft Winds,” composed this next tune with other members John Frigo and Lou Carter. “Detour Ahead” was written in the 1950s and compares love to a road trip – a good choice given how many romances go straight into the ditch. This one is a favorite among vocalists and I’ve cued up Ella to do it some justice for you, JazzBabies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Frxssz-hk0w
That’s more or less a wrap for today, but since it is Mother’s Day, I thought I’d just tweak you with this one celebrating sweet old grandmothers everywhere, especially southern California. (Embroidered handkerchiefs are just not what they used to be.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLxnUfHAdrQ
Drive safely, JazzBabies, listen with your heart, and if you haven’t already done it, call your mom!