Ella Fitzgerald: Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me

Jazz players often perform this song in a glib, jaunty manner. But this Ellington standard needs to be handled with care. The equivocal lyrics, which seem to suggest the admission of an infidelity ("some kiss may cloud my infidelity"), present a psychological labyrinth. They allow the singer to adopt a pose or dig in deep. Ella takes the harder path and chooses to probe the pathos behind the words -- a decision all the more commendable given the fact that this artist often slides along the surface of her songs. Here Ella shows how acute she could be as an interpreter of brokenhearted ballads. Of course, no vocalist of her generation had greater technical command than Ella, and when she marries her prepossessing skill to a deep penetration into the inner meaning of the material, the results are magical. All that said, Ben Webster plays a perfect solo that is every bit as brilliant as the vocal. This ranks among the finest of songbook performances.

July 04, 2008 · 0 comments


Mose Allison: Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me

Some folks call Mose Allison the "William Faulkner of jazz." But let's be honest, Absalom, Absalom! isn't half as much fun as a night out with Mose. Like Faulkner, Allison hails from Mississippi. But he espouses a bohemian, big-city, coffeehouse philosophy that has come a long way since his basket arrived in the bulrushes of Tallahatchie County back in the year of the Great Flood.

Allison has a way of imparting wry double meanings to lyrics, and this talent serves him well in interpreting Ellington's standard. These are strange lyrics, in which the singer practically admits to having an affair with another gal (True, I've been seen / With someone new . . .), but insists on a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for infidelities. Honestly, everybody in this tune should go see a relationship counselor. But while we are waiting for that, we can at least enjoy Mose's innuendo-laden delivery of this bit of musical philandering.

May 17, 2008 · 0 comments


Duke Ellington: Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me

Duke Ellington was both artist and entrepreneur. The composer who premiered his 45-minute tone poem Black, Brown and Beige at Carnegie Hall in 1943 was, within a few weeks, performing "Hayfoot, Strawfoot" at the Hurricane Restaurant (49th & Broadway, Dinners $1.50) from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. Presently, Duke's "Concerto for Cootie" (1940) acquired lyrics to compete with what he called the "popular, sentimental ballads" then driving the music business. His Hurricane run concluded, Ellington returned to Carnegie Hall in late 1943 to memorialize his latest juxtaposition of art and commerce with a sweeping and sensitive performance.

December 04, 2007 · 0 comments


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