Letters, we get letters. Well, actually, we get very few letters anymore. Emails, comments, texts sure, but letters, not so much. Of course, every old style of communicating eventually gives way to something new – drums, smoke signals, pony express. I’m reminded of an old cartoon that wasn’t presented as a jazz cartoon, but could have been.
A picture of a Greek trireme with the rowers listening to an announcement and waiting for the drumbeat to get started again: “I have some good news and some bad news. We’re going to Bermuda.” Smiles all around. “The bad news is, Buddy Rich is on the drum.”
But I digress.
JazzCookie readers are generous in suggestions about musicians I might include in the posts and today, I’m including three of those with thanks for the generosity.
The first came to me from my friend Joe in New Jersey, and it seems particularly appropriate on Father’s Day. You may have seen it – it’s one of those Youtube clips that’s making the rounds – but it’s worth looking at through slightly different eyes this time. Ben and Adelaide Ames on “Tonight You Belong to Me.” Remember, jazz vocalists have to start someplace. I asked my friend, jazz vocalist supreme Nancy Curtin, about this and she recalled being told at about the same age Adelaide is that she sang “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” perfectly. If you’re ever in Portland, Oregon, catch Nancy some night and see how far she’s come from that little star. Meantime, take it away, Ben and Adelaide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpu0TIXzI1w
A new acquaintance in San Diego is doing a great job keeping me informed of various gigs in the area and introducing me to the wealth of talent here. He let me know this week about Ron Eschete and his trio. Escheté plays a 7-string guitar and Jim Ferguson of JazzTimes wrote of him, “He is one of the finest jazz guitarists in L.A. – no small achievement in a region dense with superb players.” His voicings are often compared with those of a pianist. 20th Century Guitar likens his sound to that of Bill Evans. I didn’t get to the gig, but I did find a nice clip of Ron and friends at Steamers in Fullerton. Here they are with “Old Folks,” a mellow tune you just don’t hear that often. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taPeG_hb-kg
Jazz and blues organist Jimmy Smith was on the mind of yet another JazzCookie correspondent who mentioned Smith as one his favorites, my correspondent influenced by his father’s love of Mississippi delta blues. And here is Mr. Smith with “Blues for Del,” recorded in 1963. Personnel include Kenny Burrell (guitar); Jimmy Smith (organ); George Duvivier, Milt Hinton (bass); Bill English, Mel Lewis (drums). The recording started out almost as an afterthought which gets right at the spontaneity of jazz and the best blues. Smith was making a different album when fate intervened and he wandered into a couple of New York studios with his pal Kenny Burrell. The rest is jazz history. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb9Vq_yzBag
I’ve said so many things about Bill Evans, and they are still a tiny drop in the ocean of admiration and affection so many of us hold for this man. I’m just going to play the tune here and think a little about the words describing Ron Eschete’s sound as similar to Evans. Nobody ever really plays like anybody else, but there are resonances and refinements that we just can’t overlook. I like this tape of Bill Evans on “My Foolish Heart” for two reasons beyond Bill’s fine voicings. I like the camera work that allows us to see his hands at work and I like that it was recorded in a London studio on my birthday, March 19, 1965, one or two decades ago. When I can’t sleep, this is the tune I go to. Here’s Bill with Larry Bunker on drums and Chuck Israel on bass. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2LFVWBmoiw
Okay, if you’ve been with JazzCookie a while, you might have been waiting for this. It’s not jazz, but but this is the Summer Solstice and here is the best song about summer I know. This one is also from a couple of decades ago – or a tiny bit longer. It was recorded at the Fillmore in 1986, a 20th anniversary celebration. John Sebastian and “Summer in the City.” Do ahead and dance. You know you want to. Happy, hippie Solstice! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJfEMAOgGPQ
Finally, I couldn’t let today’s post end without a tribute to the folks at Emmanuel A.M.E. in Charleston and an acknowledgement of the harsh realities we still face when it comes to guns and hatred. No soapbox here, but a call for tender mercies and something better. I found this cover of the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” performed by John Legend at the 2013 North Sea Jazz Festival. Legend is known for many musical genres and although he’s not generally considered a jazz artist, if it’s good enough for the North Sea jazz folks, it’s good enough for the JazzCookie. Besides, it’s breath-takingly beautiful. Listen and hold the world in your heart. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnCHCqYRQFs
That’s it for today, JazzBabies. With all the turmoil going on, remember Billie’s advice: “Pray for the future. Hope for the best.” And to my younger daughter, I want to say today, “Happy, happy birthday, baby.”