Well, well, well, JazzBabies, we’re here in a brand new month with the brand new year rapidly approaching and I’m trying my best to get used to a brand new computer and a lot of brand new lingo. (I’m speaking politely there…) I no longer believe that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Modern technology with its “updates” and other tricks laughs at such foolish propositions. I’m now more inclined to believe that there is indeed a committee somewhere making decisions about my life and I was not invited to the meeting.
Fortunately for us all, the jazz world is remarkably stable. When it comes to the music, a kiss is still a kiss and the fundamental things apply. Hooray and hallelujah!
So without further chatter, let’s lead off with a truly stable and remarkable group. Herb Ellis was a Texas boy who decided to pick up a guitar and then made a fine career out of that decision. He played with Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, with Jimmy Dorsey, with the Soft Winds and eventually with Oscar Peterson. Here he is in the company of the all-star cast of Harry “Sweets” Edison, Jimmy Giuffre, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and Alvin Stoller on “It Could Happen to You” from the Herb Ellis: Ellis in Wonderland album. Hide your heart from sight, JazzBabies, and lock those dreams at night! (It really could happen to you…) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0yQ0Visudw
I hear from fellow music lovers about their favorites, and one of them introduced me recently to Emilie-Claire Barlow, someone I should have known about but did not. As hard as we try, we just can’t cover the entire waterfront. That’s why we like to hear from each other. Barlow is a Canadian songbird, Toronto born, who comes from a terrific musical family and “grew up in recording studios.” Some kids have all the luck. In school she studied piano, cello, clarinet and violin along with voice and music theory. Barlow is a busy composer, arranger and producer, but I’m more interested in her as a jazz singer. You may be, too, after listening to her here on “All I Do Is Dream of You” from her 2009 Haven’t We Met album. She’s backed by a small orchestra including cello, violin, viola and recorder. It’s her own arrangement and it’s a good one. https://www.youtube.com/watchv=EDKGtrEbeEA&list=PL8XazhvA6CtqFPDgQuN1afYPstw15buhh
I realize we’re just days from winter, but I couldn’t resist this one by Coleman Hawkins from his 1958 Sweet Moods of Summer album. It’s a little more like summer here in San Diego than it may be in your neck of the woods. We’ve had our share of chilly weather – down in the 50s for a couple of days, and that’s cold for us, man! Okay, okay, I’ll stop (but I did pull out a couple of turtlenecks for the duration.) Back to the man — Hawkins was a musician’s musician, loved and respected by the many. Lester Young, “Pres,” remarked in an interview that Hawkins was the President first and he, Lester Young, was the second. Miles Davis said that it was Hawk who taught him to play ballads. Let’s see what we can learn from Hawkins on this tune, “All of Me.” He’s joined by Red Allen, Earl Warren, Marty Napoleon, Chubby Jackson and George Wettling. Hawk, we’ll take all of you that we can get. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9bozJcM8wM
Now, I’ll run us back to winter with a beautiful take on “Blackberry Winter” by composer Alec Wilder. In the spirit of learning something new every day (besides that cursed computer), I learned that a blackberry winter is a cold snap that comes in the spring about the time blackberry canes are blooming. Who woulda thought? But let’s not wait for spring. Let’s enjoy it now as done by that old piano man, Keith Jarrett, teamed with Paul Motian, Dewey Redman and Charlie Haden. This is from Jarrett’s 1977 album Bop-Be. The snowy pictures will get you ready for the season, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybdEHYxvZT8
And to wrap up this time, JazzBabies, here’s something on the lighter side. Dave Frishberg has written a lot of things on the lighter side, but you can learn a lot about the world of a jazz musician with this one. Frishberg knows about jazz from every side, and he knows how to have fun with it. He’s not only a musician, but something of a stand-up comic even when he’s sitting down to play. This song, “I Want To Be A Sideman,” has been recorded by many including Frishberg, but I like this one by Susannah McCorkle from her Broken Hearts to the Blue Skies album. Concord Records, 1999. Maybe you’ll want to be a sideman, too, JazzBabies, “responsibility free”…and why not, I ask. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpQoAWnaDys&list=PLUxw6Ta5lZyjiXfC_XQLkqF7iwZ7rrxWZ&index=34
That’s it for this time. December is a busy month with holidays flying at us from every direction and things to do for them – shopping, cooking, decorating, parties, events…Let’s be sure to take a little time for ourselves, JazzBabies, to hear some jazz and refresh our sometimes weary souls. It’ll take your mind off the holiday Muzak at the mall. Better yet, stay out of the mall and duck into your favorite little jazz spot for something live. Sit back, settle in, and – listen.