Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy festivities and a musical suggestion

Part of my friends and readers, those in the Southern hemisphere, are about to celebrate the Summer, not Winter, Solstice (you dirty rats!), and the end of the year it's just a convention, but be it because days grow shorter on this side of the world, or because most of us will be on a break from work, or for cultural reasons, this is a time for reflection or celebration. So do reflect, and whatever you celebrate, have a great one.

I wasn't really planning on recommending any music for this time of the year. Best-of-the-year lists abound, and there's all the Christmas-y stuff. It'd feel like choosing more candy on top of all the candy we're all being shoved down our throats. 

But then I came across the video about Bob Brookmeyer (see previous entry), and I suddenly heard Jack Teagarden. With strings. In a record I didn't have a clue about. It has Teagarden's voice and trombone, arrangements by Claus Ogerman, Brookmeyer, and Russ Case, and, surprisingly, the tunes are by Willard Robison, whose name is probably less known than some of his tunes, like "Old Folks" or "Cottage for Sale".

The record is Think Well of Me (Verve V6 8465 in stereo, V-8465 in mono) recorded and released in 1962. It was reissued as a limited edition on CD (Verve 314 557 101-2, from 1998, there are second-hand copies around), and it's also on Spotify. There are several uploads on YouTube, and I have compiled this playlist:

Have a great one, best wishes for 2014, and "see" you then.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Many more bars of Brookmeyer!

Yesterday I blogged about a favourite solo by a favourite musician, but I admit I gave short shrift to his musical accomplishments in my introduction.

After I posted around that entry, my worthy constituent and jazz-tango wizard Pablo Aslan pointed me towards this wonderful film, a very nice overview of Bob Brookmeyer's musical life.

This are the credits:

Montage created by Maria Schneider and Ryan Truesdell in honor of Bob Brookmeyer, for his memorial service at St. Peters Church, NYC, April 11, 2012.
Video edited by Marie Le Claire
All music composed and/or arranged by Bob Brookmeyer
Photos courtesy of: Michael Stephans, Jan Brookmeyer

This is the film.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sixteen bars of Brookmeyer...

If you’re a regular reader of these pages, you may know that Bob Brookmeyer is one of my favourite musicians in any style or instrument. I love the way he seems to disguise his intelligence behind a gutsy, swinging style of playing the rather cumbersome valve trombone. As an arranger he has walked many paths and explored many routes, but he never disappoints. Not me, anyway.

A very good example of the diversity of his talents as an arranger and as a soloist is his arrangement of “Body and Soul” for Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band, and the contrast provided by his own 16-bar solo.

Although Brookmeyer was the driving force behind this band, here he only takes half a chorus. Where others drew arabesques on this ballad’s harmonic maze, Brookmeyer cuts through it with very little melodic variation and a very determined rhythmic delivery, with plenty of swing (as in syncopation in the first eight bars) and funk (on his second eight bars, ending his four-note motives on the downbeat, against a sort of rhumba background).

Since the solo is readily available to listen to, I won’t say more. Just that in an interview, asked about his influences he says that the first major influence, and almost the final one was Count Basie. Listening to this solo (starting in 2:37), I think it’s not difficult to imagine playing that solo on the piano.

More Brookmeyer here, and here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Time flies...

Exactly one year ago today  I just got to New York City and rushed to get to a cozy gig in Brooklyn, for Ted Brown's 85th birthday (happy 86th, Mr. Brown!) There, I met Michael Steinman, purveyor of happiness through his Jazz Lives blog, who was recording the proceedings. This took place at The Drawing Room, Michael Kanan's studio on the first floor of a building on a street of Brooklyn; a small room with about thirty people in attendance, a small makeshift bar, and a very warm and welcoming vibe, for lack of a better word, to it.

This all may be a matter of personal perception, but there are times that magic seems to happen. This was one of those times: from the music, completely acoustic, to the unassuming attitude of everyone present, the love and respect for the birthday boy... even the lightning was wonderful.

L to R: Michael Kanan, Brad Linde, Kirk Knuffke, Ted Brown,
Chris Lightcap, Matt Wilson.