One cannot say the same for his music, which is probing and provocative, more a dissection of compositional structures than the usual tributes at the shrine of the American songbook. Here Copland and Peacock take a very familiar jazz tune, already burned into our collective consciousness in definitive performances by the standard-bearers of the art form, and manage to stretch it into limber, new shapes. The duo adopt such an elongated sense of time, that the pulse is more an occasional reminder of the beat rather than a constant timekeeping. Copland doesn't so much reharmonize the song as impose new chordal structures on top of the old ones, which exist concurrently. His solo structure has plenty of drama, but no false bravado, and some of the strongest effects come through the juxtaposition of silence rather than the assertion of sound. Peacock, for his part, plays with a zen sureness that is centering even as it adds to the deconstructive spirit of the date. The result is that charming exception: a cover version that somehow manages to sound like its own original.
November 04, 2009 · 0 commentsTags: blue in green
Dilshad Khan's sarangi hangs over "Blue in Green's" intro like a protective shroud. The sarangi is an ancient Indian stringed instrument mastered by few musicians, Khan clearly being one. Free-floating elements are added by trumpeter Wallace Roney, sounding like Miles himself, guitarist Mike Stern and keyboardist Louiz Banks. Vocalist Shankar Mahadevan, best known in the West as a frequent guest with John McLaughlin's Remember Shakti, acts as the lead melodic instrument, his wordless vocalizations imbuing the piece with a haunting beauty. The tune's midsection provides a venue for some fine jazz explorations from Banks and Stern. They are propelled throughout by the rhythm section of bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jimmy Cobb, drummer on the original "Blue In Green" from Kind of Blue. An abrupt change in direction occurs that ushers in Roney and Khan for some spacey and moving interplay. (The sudden shift is reminiscent of what producer Teo Macero had sometimes created in the editing room on Miles's A Tribute to Jack Johnson and other records.) The musicians return en masse to bring the 13-minute excursion to a pleasing end. By communicating across two global hemispheres, this music takes another important step forward in the natural extension of jazz through cultural understanding.
March 02, 2009 · 0 commentsTags: blue in green
The Labèques try something on "Blue In Green" that for them was quite different. Both players use a MIDI piano. Katia also plays a synthesizer. She was familiar with that because of her stint in McLaughlin's band The Translators in the early '80s. But certainly keyboards that controlled other sounds and created electronic swaths were not in the arsenal of these grand-piano ladies. The MIDI piano controls a lush, breathy sound. The reverberating MIDI notes, which sound like they have built-in drum brushes, levitate over new piano notes. As each tone decays, it is replaced with the silent texture of sadness. This performance, which is slower than usual for "Blue In Green," is a beautiful and sad rendition. I wonder if Miles had a chance to hear it.
February 28, 2009 · 0 commentsTags: blue in green
"Blue in Green" captures Martino's lyrical and soulful sides, with an unhurried lucidity and discernment. Martino plays the calming, circular theme with a dampened yet penetrating tone, elongating notes for dramatic emphasis and leaving open space to effectively frame the gradually increasing ardor of his heartfelt and surging extended runs. Ridl's comping is both purposeful and unobtrusive, and the pianist's neatly constructed solo reveals a particularly strong and creative left hand. Martino's reprise draws on bent notes and darkly throbbing chords far more than did his opening treatment, as he closes out a lovely interpretation of the ballad Miles Davis first introduced on Kind of Blue.
January 29, 2009 · 0 commentsTags: blue in green
Conventional wisdom would say that an interpretation of "Blue in Green" would be more suited to the modern jazz that Burton was known for. And indeed Burton plays the introduction and the first solo over Swallow's slow, throbbing bass with a comforting ease. His confidence is even more impressive when you realize that this Gary Burton was only 29 years old. Meanwhile, his iconic melodic foil Stéphane Grappelli was 64. How would Grappelli approach the tune? Would he give it a bit of European swing? No. A bit of the Gypsy? Well, maybe a little. But what he mostly delivers is a thought-provoking and touching display of what jazz interpretation is all about. The collaborative process requires players to fully understand the music and the varying dynamics in play. Musicians of this quality can perform any type of music because they respect it. And they can perform it effectively together because they listen to and respect each other.
July 17, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: blue in green
I am not particularly a fan of hip hop or rap. It seems the best music from those genres is made only when infectious music samples or popular hit song melodies are used in the mix. That mix occurs in the opposite way on The Birth of Hip Bop. The beats of rap, hip hop, scat singing and rap vocals are heard here. But they are still mainly seasoning. The main ingredient is some very fine jazz playing with interesting compositions and arrangements.
I prefer the album's pure instrumentals. The best of the bunch is an absolutely inspired take on "Blue in Green." Too Blue Lou and the Groove have turned this classic ballad into a true progressive jazz anthem. As far as I know, "Blue In Green" has never been approached from this aggressive angle. We usually want to hear how beautiful the piece is played, rather than thinking of the tune as a great power showcase. This performance has propulsive rhythmic force and melodic imagination. Though the whole band is in the groove, saxophonist Huff is especially impressive. This is a performance worthy of hitting the repeat button.
Since 2033 is still a few decades off, Too Blue Lou and the Groove have plenty of time to prove the words in that newspaper article are true. I am not so sure, though, that there will be newspapers in 2033.
June 30, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: blue in green
For all intents and purposes, "Blue in Green" (listed here as "Blue N' Green") serves as a prelude for Thielemans's take on another Miles Davis classic, "All Blues." The medley begins first with pianist Fred Hersch and Thielemans taking wonderful solos extolling the thoughtful melodic virtues of "Blue in Green." Their measured but expressive endeavors serve as a melancholy introduction to "All Blues." The band goes up-tempo as Johnson and Baron propel the piece. Hersch and Thielemans once again take turns playing over the rapid changes. After several minutes of high energy, the two slow the number down with some touching counterpoint and a loving restatement of the theme. Thielemans's harmonica is as expressive as any mainstream instrument could ever hope to be.
Being a jazz harmonica virtuoso and a jazz whistler has some advantages. You don't have too much competition. You get some nice movie soundtrack jobs (Midnight Cowboy among others). A TV commercial can come your way here and there (Old Spice). And you can become known as perhaps the greatest jazz harmonica player/whistler ever. That will have to do for now.
June 21, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: blue in green
(Editor's note: Bill Evans was the ideal addition to the Davis group for the modal concentration of Kind of Blue. Having personally studied with George Russell and therefore familiar with his Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, he and Miles collaborated on some of the most celebrated jazz ever recorded. E.N.)
This album is on everyone’s desert island list. I spoke with Jimmy Cobb recently, and he said that the thing that most struck him about Kind of Blue as of late is that he’s “the only one left.” "Blue in Green" set a new standard for poetry and patience in music.
March 27, 2008 · 1 commentTags: blue in green
The comparison to Jaco would be an apt, however, if fans were talking about the expected fame Jonas would soon acquire. But Jonas has made decisions that would not allow that popular recognition to take hold. He has said on more than one occasion that he does not care about fame or an historic career. He is interested only in playing music he wants to play. Over the years, he has certainly stayed true to that philosophy by releasing mostly noncommercial music on his own labels and eschewing the moniker of "Bass God."
Elegant Punk is a perfect example of Hellborg's immersing himself into the music rather than image. At the time of this solo recording, he was becoming well known for his wild fusion excursions. He would have sold many more records had he continued that type of sound on Elegant Punk. Instead, with one or two notable exceptions, he focused on the beauty of the bass guitar and demonstrated why it can be used for so much more than just bottom-end timekeeping.
His version of "Blue in Green" is a tasteful example of bass as rhythm, accompaniment, and melodic lead. It is full of subtle chords and evocative soloing. In a nutshell, he approaches the bass as if it were a guitar. That requires some serious thinking and even more serious finger-stretching to reach and play those impossible chords.
March 22, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: blue in green
January 26, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: blue in green
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