Dave Brubeck (with Paul Desmond): Blue Moon

At the start of this 1953 track, Brubeck actually plays "Blue Moon" straight, sticking to the original chords and not engaging in any of his usual games. Ah, but we know this won't last for long. Brubeck and Desmond always had some tricks up their sleeves, especially during this early period, when no standard was given the standard treatment. Midway through Desmond's solo, the band moves from major to minor, and the altoist starts playing unexpected variations on "Lullaby of the Leaves," which another famous West Coast quartet had recorded five months earlier. Brubeck is not to be outdone, and kicks off his solo with some off-the-wall counterpoint, before showing that he can also play the major-to-minor switcheroo. Before they have called it a night, this band has played "Blue Moon" and "Red Moon" and "Tangerine Mood" and every other shade they could muster on the fly. These early Brubeck-Desmond sides are always a delight, and sound very spontaneous. You can hear the fun these two creative minds had in playing off each other's wildest flights. A winning moment from a historic band.

June 24, 2008 · 0 comments


Art Blakey (featuring Freddie Hubbard): Blue Moon

Freddie Hubbard is a great balladeer. He grabs you from the very first phrase. Dynamics are in evidence, as is his use (or non-use) of distinctive vibrato. One can hear the influence of Clifford Brown (no trumpeter can escape that when playing a ballad), but Freddie is his own man. His second phrase at 2:35 into the tune is so memorable and literally breathtaking—it took big breath to play it! Great dynamics from the band and from Freddie. A fantastic, melodic out-chorus, all subtle twists and turns, with some great rubato phrases at the end of the arrangement (Cedar Walton’s arrangement is so inventive) and a wonderful and tasteful cadenza. In short, music wins over technique.

April 11, 2008 · 0 comments


Boyd Raeburn: Blue Moon

Raeburn began his career in the Midwest leading a functional Lawrence Welk-type band. By 1943, he switched gears and put together a jazz ensemble that by 1946 was one of the most admired and controversial in American music. But in 1945, his band reflected a Basie approach to music and attracted the top young musicians on the scene. Gillespie was not a regular member, but his "A Night in Tunisia" was part of the Raeburn book. Lang-Worth Transcriptions (recordings made for radio play) recorded most of the Raeburn library over several sessions and with numerous personnel changes. "Blue Moon" is an exciting dance arrangement with good solos by Bothwell, Gillespie and Carpenter. But the real stars are this powerhouse group, and a terrific arrangement by baritone saxophonist/arranger Milt Kleeb, still active as co-leader of an 11-piece band with Bill Ramsey in the Seattle area.

December 30, 2007 · 0 comments


Billie Holiday: Blue Moon

Lady Day evidently brought a head cold to this session, which for other singers might be a handicap. Holiday, however, brought more than a head cold to this session. Her naturalness and easy familiarity make it seem she's singing to you alone. Unfortunately, not everyone's on the same page. Flip Phillips and the rhythm section are fine, but Shavers bolts into his solo like George Armstrong Custer's bugler sounding the charge. This, mind you, less than a minute after Billie sings, "I heard somebody whisper, 'Please adore me' " (emphasis added). What, Charlie's mute was in the shop for repairs?

December 04, 2007 · 1 comment


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