Urban Hansson: All Of Me

In a bold set of intimate duets pairing the flute with various instruments, Swedish flautist nee tenor sax man Urban Hansson offers a quirky smorgasbord of jazz standards, amid a smattering of interesting originals. His technique wavers between straightforward Herbie Mann-erisms and vintage Jethro Tull-ery at times and his approach on this particular cut recalls the initial, jazzier days of Ian Anderson. That said, Hansson’s “All of Me” is an entertaining listen, as he and guitarist Andreas Oberg give this old chestnut the jazz Manouche treatment.

Oberg introduces the track with enticing chord slapping and harp harmonics on his signature AJL grande bouche acoustic before launching into a spirited pompe, over which Hansson’s flute growls breathlessly. The young guitar phenom’s aggressive Django-style solo stands alone for two meaty choruses before the two bring the lively jam home. It may not be cutting-edge, but this version is still a fun romp that’s not hard on the ears.

June 29, 2009 · 0 comments


Dinah Washington: All of Me

It's easy to see why novice filmmaker (and non-jazz fan) Bert Stern picked "All of Me" instead of a different Dinah Washington number for Jazz on a Summer's Day (1960), his documentary of 1958's Newport Jazz Festival. Having belted the opening chorus with customary gusto, Dinah steps aside for most of Terry Gibbs's ensuing solo, only to mischievously butt in near the end for some 4-handed vibes frivolity that's as visually entertaining as it is musically negligible. Strictly for listening, however, this track has less to recommend. Max Roach rushes the tempo as the second chorus begins, and Urbie Green's throwback trombone solo, while technically admirable, makes you wonder why J.J. Johnson wasn't at Newport that year.

Another track from the same day, though, shows Miss Washington at her brash best. "Backwater Blues," a tribute to its composer, Bessie Smith, is Dinah-mite with the fuse lit. Backed only by Roach, bassist West and the extraordinary Wynton Kelly on piano, Dinah does her precursor proud. If Bessie was Empress of the Blues, Dinah was the Doyenne of Delight.

April 08, 2008 · 0 comments


Lester Young: All of Me

Propelled by Jo Jones's dynamic sticks, this tune (originally from the album Pres and Teddy) finds Pres in great shape, far from the brooding mood that was sometimes his at that period of his life. No wonder, when he's so well surrounded by familiar partners. His two solos – before and after Wilson's – are marvelously built and inventive, and Jones is most supportive and empathic all along, up to the "fours" he trades with the tenor. In fact, on this track, Papa Jo may be the second great of this master's quartet, and it's a wonder to hear the way he switches to brushes without losing a bit of drive behind the piano solo.

February 12, 2008 · 0 comments


Eddie Heywood (featuring Billie Holiday): All of Me

On what was their final Columbia session together, Young was given only two brief solos on the sides selected for release. However, it was only because of the arbitrary limits of the ten-inch 78-rpm record that the magical take 3 of “All of Me” remained in Columbia’s vaults until the release of The Lester Young Story Volume 5 in 1980. It was too long – by some 30 seconds – to fit onto a ten-inch 78, and so was never released. In all probability it was a first cut and Holiday and Young are captured at their zenith, Young taking sixteen bars after Billie’s vocal, Heywood following with eight bars and Young returning for a final eight bars to lead back into Billie’s vocal.

The way both phrase had taken on a certain gravitas and beauty that neither would totally recapture. Heywood later said he was mesmerized by their performances on this number; indeed, the listener is abruptly brought back to reality at the end by the engineer’s admonition, “It’s a bit long.” “Yeah, I know,” responds Billie. “We’ll bring it up a little bit.” “It’s a half a minute long,” the disembodied voice persists. It was almost as if they knew their lives were about to follow separate trajectories and they we saying their goodbyes in the only way they know how – through music.

January 20, 2008 · 0 comments


Billie Holiday & Lester Young: All of Me

If hot jazz was defined by Louis Armstrong in the 1920s, then the lyrical side of jazz found its perfect exponents in Billie Holiday and Lester Young during the 1930s and 1940s. Their collaborations revealed a different side of the jazz art form. Here we can savor emotion without cheap sentimentality, simplicity without simple-mindedness, a force of expression that is achieved through restraint and understatement. In the long lineage of cool jazz, we constantly find the creative bursts coming at us through the work of couples -- Bix & Tram, Miles & Gil, Getz & Gilberto -- almost as if music this sensitive required some sort of magnetic, mutual attraction, an exemplary pairing to make it possible. Call it a musical romance, if you will. But at the top of the hierarchy, our First Lady (Day) and Pres of the democracy of cool jazz are Billie and Lester. "All of Me" ranks among the finest of their classic sides, and it is hard to say which of the two gets the upper hand here. Let's call it a tossup. A must have recording for anyone interested in the history of jazz vocals or the evolution of the tenor sax.

December 09, 2007 · 0 comments


Louis Armstrong: All of Me

                          Louis Armstrong, photo by Herb Snitzer

In 1932, slugger Babe Ruth hit .341, with 41 home runs and 137 RBIs, helping the Yankees to a pennant. During their World Series sweep of the Cubs, Ruth signaled to Wrigley Field's deepest recess and swatted a 490-foot homer to cement his legend. That same year, jazz's Sultan of Scat also cemented his legend, but with a distinctly less stellar team. Backed by antiquated plunking banjo and whiny saxophones, Louis Armstrong leads off with terrific muted trumpeting, advances to an effectively offhand vocal, then scores with his smashing, Homeric open horn. But why was he playing with bush leaguers?

November 06, 2007 · 1 comment


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