Dave Brubeck: Georgia On My Mind

Recorded about a year before Ray Charles changed everyone's approach to the song, Dave Brubeck's recording of "Georgia On My Mind" is a quiet, reflective take on the Hoagy Carmichael standard, featuring some of Brubeck's most sensitive playing from this period. Brubeck has the opening and closing choruses of the arrangement to himself, with only light accompaniment from Gene Wright's bass and Joe Morello's drums. Brubeck makes occasional minor changes to the harmony, but for the most part, he simply enjoys interpreting the song as is. While Brubeck favored a strong attack in many of his performances, he could always play with a light touch, caressing the melody instead of hammering it. Paul Desmond glides in with his wispy tone and spins one beautiful phrase after another. Later, he makes a dramatic pause before improvising on the bridge. Brubeck's ensuing solo stays in single lines for the first half, then builds slightly into chords before Brubeck eases back into the tune. There is a slight crescendo as Brubeck goes into an unaccompanied solo which brings the performance to an end with a simple collection of repeated ideas.

October 08, 2009 · 0 comments


Lenny Breau: Georgia on My Mind

With his prepossessing looks, a winning personality, and a larger-than-life talent, Lenny Breau had all the ingredients for stardom. Moreover, he came of age just when guitar was starting to dominate popular entertainment, and Breau's commanding technique and expansive conception should have earned him a place at the top of the music world. He could play in a wide range of styles, and although the jazz world claimed him as its own, his performances drew on elements of everything from country to classical. This version of "George on My Mind" from a live date at Donte's shows how far Breau could push a familiar pop tune. From the opening bars, he is reconfiguring the harmonies, drawing on a sound palette more akin to Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock than your typical guitar stylings. His single-note lines push up against the limits of the changes; then, around the midpoint of his solo, he superimposes a fast waltz beat, and seems intent on forcing a "Bluesette" mood onto the Hoagy Carmichael tune. Finally, Breau shifts gears again, and as the piece draws to a close he develops a stunning counterpoint on the guitar that sounds like two musicians trading phrases. Long after his death in 1984, at age 43, this player still seems ahead of the times.

October 12, 2008 · 0 comments


Henry "Pucho" Brown: Georgia on My Mind

This "Georgia" is far from the usually slow renderings. First the frantic up-tempo Latin pulse, then the coarse blues shouter's voice that, besides singing with plenty of soul (as befits his name), reminds us that James Brown and Martin Luther King were from Georgia (this is undoubtedly the roaring '60s!), finally the daring arrangement based on contrasts between fiery percussion and airy strings, dreamy vibraphone and loud horns. Happy feet and soul lovers alike will find what they're looking for in this hot and strange brew that bubbles with rhythm and emotion.

January 31, 2008 · 0 comments


Toots Thielemans: Georgia on My Mind

When a self-described Brussels street kid joins Japanese jazzmen in Tokyo on July 4, 1979, for a soulful "Georgia on My Mind," it seems to fulfill Marshall McLuhan's 1967 prophecy of a global village spawned by new forms of communication. Of course, Longfellow had declared a century before that "Music is the universal language." But pre-electronic media, this meant in practice that people could appreciate foreign music as consumers, not perform it with authenticity. Thanks to recordings and radio, however, by the year Georgia's legislature enacted as state anthem this song written by two Hoosiers, Monsieur Toots could toot an old sweet song in the Land of the Rising Sun as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines.

November 19, 2007 · 0 comments


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