David Murray & Mal Waldron: I Should Care

So many great pianists have put their stamp on this standard over the years: Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and Bill Evans, to name a few. Monk's solo piano versions of "I Should Care" (especially the Riverside version) could serve as case studies in how to remake a standard in your own image. Hence I was disappointed to hear Mal Waldron, a very inventive and daring pianist, stick so close to the conventional chord changes here, and settle so comfortably into an old-fashioned groove. I hoped for something more surprising. David Murray, for his part, offers up a very inventive solo, and gives us a taste of fireworks. But Waldron seems content to let the tenorist do all of the heavy lifting. In short, there is not enough here to hold the listeners' interest for the full duration of this 12˝ minutes of ballad musing. Waldron fans would be better served by checking out the dramatic version of "Soul Eyes" from this same date.

July 24, 2008 · 0 comments

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Bud Powell: I Should Care

Bud Powell was still a young man when he recorded this track -- he would turn 32 two weeks later -- but he had already entered a period of decline. He starts with an intro that is more cocktail piano bombast than jazz, and when he falls into a proper tempo, he tinkles where a younger Powell would have burned up the keyboard. But the worst thing is the submersion of his own musical personality in mannerisms that sound like bits of Oscar or Erroll or Thelonious. Powell devotees may still want to check out this track, but if you haven't heard this artist before, start with the great recordings from 1947-1951.

May 08, 2008 · 0 comments

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Bill Evans: I Should Care

Here Bill Evans revisits his musical ties to bop piano pioneer Bud Powell, who also liked to play (and sometimes sing) this melancholy song with its contradictory lyrics. The irony is that Evans's version sounds more like classic Powell than Powell does himself. This track from Evans's Town Hall live recording has more bite in it than the pianist usually shows. Even his comping chords have an extra kick to them.

You know how people say "I could care less" when they really mean "I couldn't care less"? Sammy Cahn's words to this tune, with their peculiar closing line ("I should care . . and I do"), capture both meanings at once, caring and not caring. Evans's performance is much the same: on the surface it sounds tossed off without a second thought, but underneath it you can hear how much care went into this apparent indifference. This is not quite an Evans masterpiece, but it provides interesting perspective on the rougher and ruggeder side of a deep musical thinker.

May 08, 2008 · 0 comments

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Hank Mobley: I Should Care


    Hank Mobley
Artwork by Michael Symonds

Hard bop and ballads were strange bedfellows. Many hard-bop drummers didn't own wire brushes for their snares, preferring sticks the size of Hank Aaron's bat. Another Hank, surnamed Mobley, was one hard-bop stalwart with a soft spot for pretty tunes. Moreover, at the time of this recording, Hank and his cohorts were either current or former sidemen of Miles Davis—a preeminent balladeer. Even when resorting to the jazzman's time-honored recourse of double-timing over a slow tempo, as he does here, Mobley's slightly overcast tone was mobilized in the service of lyricism. And, yes, Philly Joe uses brushes. Another knockout.

November 17, 2007 · 0 comments

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Thelonious Monk: I Should Care (1948)

At a historic session where he first recorded his stunning originals "Evidence," "Misterioso," "Epistrophy" and "I Mean You," Monk was asked to perform something, umm … recognizable. The hermetically self- contained pianist reacts like an exterminator faced with rampant infestation, transforming a harmless ditty from an MGM musical into obstreperous cacophony recalling composer Charles Ives's 1890s' polytonal experiments pitting two brass bands blaring opposing marches in a New England town square. They couldn't have been more at odds than Monk and his hapless vocalist. With bop's high priest dispensing such low comedy, could Jonathan & Darlene Edwards be far behind?

November 05, 2007 · 0 comments

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