Miles Davis: It Could Happen To You

In 1956, with a new recording contract from Columbia (and several recordings already in the can for them), Miles Davis negotiated a deal with Prestige Records to wrap up his current contract: Miles and his quintet would record two marathon sessions consisting of the band’s current repertoire. The music would be recorded as a nightclub set, with little space between tunes, and no retakes unless absolutely necessary. The four resulting albums Cookin’, Relaxin', Workin' and Steamin’ were released over the next four years. Prestige got the albums they wanted, and Miles’ Columbia discography alternated classic small group dates with orchestral collaborations arranged and conducted by Gil Evans.

“It Could Happen To You” was released on Relaxin’ and the mood of the song certainly fits the album title. This is one of several standards in Miles’ book and the treatment is basically the same as on “Bye Bye, Blackbird” recorded for Columbia in the previous year. Miles takes the opening chorus in harmon mute over a bouncy two-beat from the rhythm section. John Coltrane enters next with a slashing “sheets of sound” tenor solo over a wide-open rhythm section in straight 4/4. Red Garland lightens the mood with his delicate piano stylings and Miles comes back to take it out. What makes this recording unique is what happens in each of these episodes: Miles’ solo includes several odd-length phrases which only make sense when they’re all put together, Trane balances his normally rough-hewn style with long and tender melodic phrases, and Garland finds the middle ground between Miles and Trane with a tasty mixture of short and long phrases. And how well the band communicates the spirit of the light-hearted warnings of the unheard lyrics! This was the best jazz group of its day and even a minor toss-off recording by them stands up very well 50-odd years later.

September 02, 2009 · 0 comments


Diana Krall: It Could Happen to You

This is retro-Krall, with an Eisenhower-era flavor. Don't get me wrong, the 1950s were a great time for pop-vocal-plus-big-band recordings. But a singer with this much talent should aspire to more than just reproducing jazz styles from ancient history. Krall, for her part, slides effortlessly over the vocal the first time through . . . then she delivers the words all over again, with jazzier phrasing and moving farther and farther away from the Jimmy Van Heusen melody. In neither case does she bring out the sly humor in the lyrics, which are intended to amuse with their lowdown on what could happen to you. In all fairness, Krall never makes a bad recording, and this track declares its slick competency from the outset. Even so, those who haven't experienced her artistry may want to start elsewhere -- for example, with her remarkable version of "How Insensitive" from this same CD.

June 28, 2008 · 0 comments


Sonny Rollins: It Could Happen to You

It could happen. A great jazzman at the height of his powers might inexplicably retire to his Brooklyn apartment, emerging after dark to practice on the little-used pedestrian walkway of the Williamsburg Bridge. It not only could happen, it did! This track offers a stunning preview, sans traffic noise, two years before Sonny's sudden sabbatical. Rollins later likened his thematic improvisations to a jeweler, "holding the melody up to the light and rotating it. There's no limit to what you can do." Motorists crossing the East River never dreamt that, perched alone overhead in the middle of the night, a master jeweler honed gems such as this.

December 07, 2007 · 0 comments


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