Ella Fitzgerald: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Six geese, allaying Rudy's fears, assured him, "You'll go down in history." That's exactly what he was afraid of. It wasn't so much this song's embarrassing gossip about the original eight reindeer laughing and calling him names, refusing to let poor Rudolph join in their silly games. It was the scary way Ella interpolated "Tom Dooley," The Kingston Trio's 1958 folk hit about a knife-murderer. "Hang your nose down, Rudy," Ella hoarsely scolds. "Hang your nose and cry." Frankly, this veiled threat nearly scared the shine out of him—although the geese were right about one thing: having Ella sing about you is historic.

November 16, 2007 · 0 comments


Chet Baker: Winter Wonderland

For calling birds, a trumpet is the most reliable instrument. Especially if the trumpeter looks like jazz's James Dean. When the youthful Chet Baker blew, feathered friendlies flocked from miles around. To the wunderkind's “Winter Wonderland,” birds in the meadow built a snowman, pretending it was Parson Brown. "Are you married?" they'd ask Chet, who'd say, "No, man." The birds would then twitter and tweet, vying to win Chet's heart. It didn't work, but with his quartet swinging down the lane as snow glistened, the birds flew along and merrily monitored. Nothing could dampen birdie spirits in Chet's winter wonderland.

November 16, 2007 · 1 comment


Bill Evans & Jim Hall: My Funny Valentine

Bill Evans and Jim Hall set the standard for duo playing with the release of Undercurrent. More than four decades later, their understated masterpiece continues to astound with its unadorned beauty. In contrast to the ballads that follow, “My Funny Valentine” is taken at a surprisingly brisk tempo and features some of the most exciting playing on the disc. Evans states the melody before providing a syncopated pulse for Hall’s snaking lines. The guitarist reciprocates by strumming infectiously swinging rhythms behind Evans, whose palpable effervescence is carried over into Hall’s buoyant restatement of the melody.

November 11, 2007 · 0 comments


Vince Guaraldi: Linus and Lucy

"Twelve drummers drumming?" suggested Linus. "Don't be ridiculous," snapped Lucy, his older sister. They were choosing a gift for her unrequiting sweetheart, Schroeder the toy pianist. "I've got it!" exclaimed Linus, passing Lucy an LP from the stash in Charlie Brown's garage. "Vince Guaraldi?" she hesitated. "Is that classical?" Linus, anxious to finish before Charlie Brown returned from the fool's errand upon which Lucy had sent him, replied, "The classiest!" And that's how Schroeder came to supplement his devotion to Beethoven with a love of jazz. Alas, he still ignored Lucy—one more thing for which she'd never forgive Linus.

November 07, 2007 · 0 comments


Chet Baker: My Funny Valentine (1952)

Trumpeter Chet Baker was and will forever be the poster boy for West Coast cool jazz. His introverted, plaintive tone and relaxed, lyrical style was strikingly different from his fiery contemporaries such as Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown. Baker’s treatment of “My Funny Valentine,” painfully romantic and hauntingly beautiful, thrust him atop the trumpet polls in 1952. His humble interpretation of the melody creates an extraordinarily intimate atmosphere, compelling listeners to hold their breath in fear of creating the slightest disturbance. One of the most captivating and magical ballad performances in all of jazz.

October 24, 2007 · 0 comments


Previous Page | Next Page