Seamus Blake: Darn That Dream

This melodically complex tune was originally written for the ill-fated Broadway show Swingin' the Dream, a failed adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream with a predominantly African-American cast set in 1890s New Orleans. Here it becomes a vehicle for saxophonist Seamus Blake's harmonic adventures.

Blake starts with a deliberatively slow-cadenced, almost smoky-sounding tenor lead-in of the melody line, embellishing with a dexterously rapid run of notes, before thoughtfully teasing out his own interpretation of this challenging piece. Blake sets the bar high with a deeply pensive solo that reaches inwardly to create a musical statement both emotive and exploratory. He moves through the song's structure with admirable command, approaching the musical brink without ever crossing its imaginary boundary. Pianist David Kikoski follows in a most lyrical and restrained way, contributing an evocative solo that slowly blossoms into a delicate bouquet of sounds. Blake and Kikoski demonstrate that their inner fire can be tempered to hot embers when a song requires the proper thoughtful treatment. Here they find a vehicle that demands measured restraint to extract its essence, and follow this approach with satisfying results.

February 12, 2009 · 0 comments


Joe Pass: Darn That Dream

This track, from Pass's memorable 1975 concert with Oscar Peterson at Salle Pleyel, features the guitarist in a solo setting. But after an evening of duets (that might be a typoŚ"duels" would be just as appropriate), Pass was still charged with adrenalin, and makes the most of his ballad feature. Here are all the Pass trademarks: convoluted passing chords; unexpected modulations through the circle of fifths that threaten to pull us out of the tonal center; basslines that seem to require a second guitarist hidden in the wings; crisp, super-fast single-note lines; hints of funk and bop and soul and plain old-fashioned romanticism. And through it all, that imperturbable Pass confidence, as if the six strings were hardwired into his central nervous system. The 1970s were a great era for Joe Pass, and here in the middle of the decade he delivers a magisterial performance in Paris.

October 12, 2008 · 0 comments


Miles Davis: Darn That Dream

The only real "dog" in the Birth of the Cool catalog, this track remained unavailable for many years until it was finally dug out of the vault in 1972 for a "complete" LP release in Holland. Singer Kenny Hagood is not at his best, and the ensemble playing of Gerry Mulligan's indifferent score is lackluster and tired. It is a real pity that Mulligan's "Joost at the Roost" was not recorded instead.

March 03, 2008 · 0 comments


Bill Evans & Jim Hall: Darn That Dream

Nearly six years of an average lifespan, scientists calculate, are spent dreaming. The ancients considered dreams prophetic, even divinely inspired. Moderns subject the process to rigorous physiological and psychological analysis. Yet dreams continue to defy understanding. No one knows for sure what purpose, if any, dreaming serves for either body or mind. Some philosophers posit that life itself is but a dream. Meanwhile, artists such as Bill Evans and Jim Hall open waking windows into the dream world, where time and logic are suspended, and beauty treads so softly a sleeping child is undisturbed. This "Dream" truly is divinely inspired.

December 07, 2007 · 0 comments


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