Theoretically, it’s possible to play jazz – or rock or classical music – on any instrument. No argument from me. Chet Baker kills it with his trumpet. Bill Evans does the same on the piano. Herbie Mann does it on the flute, and Roger Kellaway plays jazz on his cello. Vibes, basses, pennywhistles, a Hammond B-3. The guitar. Oh, yes, the guitar. All good. Great.
But one instrument is so closely associated with jazz that I decided to devote today’s post to a few of the greats who’ve come along with their saxophones and turned us inside out. These names may not be as familiar to you as others, which just goes to show how rich and deep the vein of gold is when it comes to the music.
I’m kicking off with Gene Ammons and his beautiful rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me,” which I heard in good company with the lights low recently. Yep, it’s good. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GG9Z-Cy_rx0
Moving on to Zoot Sims, whose name alone inspires many jazz lovers. He teams up here with a couple of other greats – Joe Pass on guitar and Oscar Peterson at the piano on “Embraceable You.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snQiFZRdBZo
Art Pepper was afflicted as so many musicians sadly have been with a serious drug problem. But from out of the mist comes this poignant version of Judy’s famous song, “Over the Rainbow.” It could break your heart. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWihboDSrdg
I had the pleasure of listening to Bran Marsalis in a small restored church in Portland, Maine a few years back. The acoustics were great and it was a fine evening. Here he is on the lovely, “Dienda.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbc7tLDQhYY
And because it’s spring and the sun is shining out my window, I’ll close with the familiar and happy, danceable (that’s your cue! nobody’s looking…) “St. Thomas” with the legendary Sonny Rollins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4DTR0I7xhA
From the bottom of my heart, Adolphe Sax, I say thank you, thank you, thank you.
Ciao, jazz babies.