Oscar Pettiford: All The Things You Are

Oscar Pettiford came into prominence during the 1940s through his associations with Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. While working with Woody Herman in 1949, Pettiford suffered a broken arm and found it difficult to play the bass. For rehabilitation purposes, he learned to play the cello and after his recuperation, he played it occasionally on gigs. A shining achievement of his cello technique is his 1959 version of “All The Things You Are.”

Pettiford plays the introduction arco, then Koller enters with the melody. Throughout the first chorus of the song, Pettiford develops a call and response pattern with Koller. During his solo from 1:59-2:52, Pettiford incorporates several techniques including even eighth-note patterns, note bends and slides. Zoller enhances the performance by choosing notes that further develop the contour of Pettiford’s solo. “All The Things You Are” serves as a great addition to the history of the cello in jazz and to Pettiford’s late discography.

September 09, 2009 · 0 comments


Gonzalo Rubalcaba: All the Things You Are

Rubalcaba's appearances with Haden and Motian at the 1989 Montreal Jazz Festival and the 1990 Montreux Jazz Festival—the latter where this track was recorded—were instrumental in creating a huge buzz regarding the young Cuban pianist's virtuoso talent. This warranted hype grew despite the fact that it would be several more years before he would be allowed to enter the United States to perform, due to State Department restrictions. That Rubalcaba was the real deal early on is clearly evident on this kaleidoscopic 11-minute treatment of "All the Things You Are," the reliable warhorse that has served to test and measure countless jazz musicians over the years. Rubalcaba brings to bear his early classical training, as well as his exposure to Afro-Cuban music and jazz influences such as Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea.

The pianist starts with a contemplative solo exploration of the melody's familiar harmonies, but quickly ups the tempo as he's joined by Haden and Motian. Forceful chords, propulsive rhythmic variations, convoluted gliding runs, and hurtling two-handed unison passges are among the many treats Rubalcaba offers the audience at Montreux. Haden and Motian admirably manage to keep up with him, but seem merely along for the ride. The bassist does get a chance to solo fervently about five minutes in, obviously inspired by Rubalcaba's verve. Motian succeeds him with a characteristically loose and unpredictable improvisation. Rubalcaba picks up where he left off for the final three minutes, at first racing cogently through the changes before a somewhat more subdued, but ultimately rhapsodic winding-down. A star is born.

June 23, 2009 · 0 comments


Denny Zeitlin: All The Things You Are

After Denny Zeitlin moved to San Francisco in 1964, he formed a working trio with Charlie Haden (b. 1937) and Jerry Granelli (b. 1940) that lasted for two years. Their first album was Carnival, and as remarkable as Zeitlin’s freshman Cathexis album was, his second was a definite step forward. Among its numerous high points was this unique treatment of an oft-performed standard. The “hook” of Zeitlin’s arrangement is the song’s bridge, or middle section—it’s played in waltz time, except for the final two measures, and repeated over and over to build tension before returning to the final A section.

The trio’s execution of this—at times delicate, at other times soaring—is sublime; this is one of the quintessential jazz recordings of “All the Things You Are”. Zeitlin rerecorded his arrangement in the late 1980s with bassist Joel DiBartolo and drummer Peter Donald (Denny Zeitlin Trio Windham Hill Jazz 112), but this slower version is definitive.

June 14, 2009 · 0 comments


Hampton Hawes: Yesterdays

Hampton Hawes' style integrated vestiges of stride with his own version of bebop. His sound was uniquely his own. Recorded in the back warehouse of the Contemporary Records office in 1955, the same year that he was acknowledged by Metronome magazine as “arrival of the year”, Hawes' recording of "Yesterdays" showed that he had indeed arrived. Playing with Red Mitchell on bass and Chuck Thompson on drums, the pianist stretched out in this classic recording.

Perhaps the casualness of his surroundings contributed to the easy flow of this recording. Hawes stylistically embellished introduction, with its elongated arpeggios, runs and flowery flourishes, presents a window into his story-telling soul. His romanticized intro is in stark contrast to the bouncy, free-flowing swing he ultimately settles into on the chorus. I am especially fond of the climbing, slightly dissonant, percussive run he uses before Mitchell and Thompson join in and the tempo moves upward. His approach is both joyous and harmonically rich as he is encouraged along by Mitchell. Hamp’s swing subtly floats in an effortless display of sublime West Coast cool. When Mitchell solos, it is with equal harmonic invention. Thompson lays back nicely in the pocket, never intruding on the conversation between Mitchell and Hawes. Hamp’s delivery is effervescent and he conveys a profound sense of joy while exploring the bounds of musical sophistication, a rare quality matched by few of his peers.

May 29, 2009 · 0 comments


Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan: The Way You Look Tonight

Their light tones and upbeat lyricism an ideal match, Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond’s Two of a Mind was destined to be a classic even before one note was recorded. Not only does the individual brilliance of the two soloists make this album a resounding success, but their shared contrapuntal conception and empathetic duetting are the elements that truly create the beauty within. On "The Way You Look Tonight," Mulligan weaves a delightful counterpoint around Desmond’s melody, both tirelessly manipulating the altoist’s five note motive that opens the track. Desmond takes the first solo, floating airily and unfurling long, relaxed phrases filled with surprising twists and turns. Kay’s brushes churn behind the altoist before he unassumingly opens up with sticks to nudge Mulligan along through his two typically bright and fleet choruses. Desmond overdubs a third contrapuntal line for the transcendent final out-choruses, a breathtaking conclusion to a simply marvelous, must-have recording.

May 04, 2009 · 0 comments


Sonny Rollins & Coleman Hawkins: All The Things You Are

This track comes from the fabled Sonny Meets Hawk! sessions from July, 1963 with Rollins and Coleman Hawkins, and exhibits perhaps the most abstract playing of Rollins’s career. This track also features one of the greatest piano solos ever from Paul Bley. While retaining bits and pieces of Jerome Kern’s melody in their improvisations, Bley and Rollins both play against the time, the changes, and everything else, but still swing ferociously, while Henry Grimes on bass and Roy McCurdy on drums keep things together underneath it all.

April 20, 2009 · 0 comments


Keith Jarrett: The Song is You

I wouldn't be surprised if this live recording is someday reissued with a name like The Great Concert of the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio or some other grandiose moniker. The stars were clearly aligned for Messrs. Jarrett, Peacock & DeJohnette at their July 1986 Munich performance, and almost every track is at a high level. But Jarrett's piano intro to "The Song is You"—one all-too-brief minute of ecstatic improvisation—makes it onto my short list of favorite moments. Here the pianist marries the finest aspects of his "Solo Concerts" with the canonical approach of the Standards Trio, and the results are brisk and compelling. My immediate reaction when the rest of the band enters is disappointment . . . I would like this solo section to continue for several more minutes. Yet Peacock and DeJohnette quickly show that they also can rewrite the old repertoire. I'm not sure whether the trio had originally planned to play this song for 17 minutes, but I can easily believe that they just went with the flow. And it is a rapturous flow that carries them along. There are many, many fine recordings that demonstrate what this ensemble is all about, but this is not a bad place to start if you want to take the measure of their mastery.

January 27, 2009 · 0 comments


Keith Jarrett: Intro / Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

This Jerome Kern standard is probably more popular with the general public than with jazz musicians—in other words, you are more likely to hear it tinkling in the background at the cocktail lounge than at a Berklee jam session. Jarrett himself recorded it previously as part of a session, under Bob Moses's leadership, alongside the late, great tenor Jim Pepper. The pairing of Jarrett and Pepper seemed like a jazz dream date, but the music on that late-1960s date didn't tap into the full potential of the players involved. This version of Kern's warhorse, performed by Jarrett's "Standards Trio" at a concert in Tokyo, is more focused and coherent. The intro is a piece unto itself, a wistful minute-and-a-half meditation, all too brief but enough to demonstrate how deeply Mr. Jarrett immerses himself into the inner feeling-state of the music. When Peacock and DeJohnette enter, it is with gentle whispers and smoke floating past your eyes. Jarrett has achieved great things in his career, but one shouldn't minimize the importance of taking the old songs and making them fresh again. This may not be as dramatic as a piano concerto cadenza, but it's no less valuable as a lesson to the rest of us.

January 27, 2009 · 0 comments


Tony Bennett & Count Basie: Ol' Man River

Antonio Benedetto of Astoria, NY, might have sung bel canto, but Tony Bennett (as he became) actually loved to "rock his baby 'round to Ellington or Basie." And Tony's first chance to work a stage with the Basie Band came in November 1958, when the dual forces tried to record a live club date together. Whatever went wrong, Bennett and the orchestra instead wound up back in Columbia's studios, where applause and crowd noise were added to the new session results to simulate that "live" atmosphere, but where all definitely went right otherwise. Fifty years on, the album is still a highlight of Tony's storied, ongoing career, and the churning performance of "Ol' Man River" the linchpin climax of it (the original LP, that is), coming hard-on-the-heels of a happily gate-swinging version of "Lullaby of Broadway," and the two linked by rowdy crowd excitement.

The available CD has removed those extraneous sounds, but the "River" arrangement's surprising approach is preserved: swirling flute from Frank Wess, hot sparks of brass, the surging rhythm of the vaunted Basie machine (even with Bennett's accompanist Ralph Sharon filling in for the absent Count), and Gatling-gun percussion courtesy of guest conguero Candido Camero (including his speed-changing solo), all taken at an up, way up tempo that makes shambles of the Showboat tune's funereal tread, and that Bennett rides with ease. If there's an unspoken subtext here—the racial plot of the original musical, which featured Paul Robeson as rumbling stevedore singer; that profoundly basso vocalist and the Basie mob later flailing like punchy boxers in their one attempt at a recording ("King Joe [The Joe Louis Blues] " was the 78)—well, let the Broadway babies rock it, because Riverboat Tony and the Bargin' Basie Gang made this version dance.

January 16, 2009 · 0 comments


Gerry Mulligan: All the Things You Are (1957)

This recording was part of a project that "might have been." Columbia Records producer George Avakian asked Mulligan to record an album with a big band. Mulligan wrote a few scores and recorded them over two days with an all-star group. He wasn't entirely happy with the results, later saying that the rhythm section didn't have the looseness he'd achieved with his small groups. However, he cited "All the Things You Are" as one of the recordings he was particularly pleased with. An earlier version of this arrangement was written for the Stan Kenton Orchestra; along with the original pieces Mulligan submitted to Stanley during this period, he was assigned arrangements for dancing, which he considered "dog work." Obviously there was enough interest in this setting to cause him to revisit it. Beginning with an introduction in 3/4 time, Mulligan plays the melody. He is joined in the next chorus by a contrapuntal dialogue between himself, Lee Konitz and trumpeter Don Joseph. The orchestral statement that follows is similar to the Kenton version, and the arrangement features a lovely out-chorus with the 3/4 intro returning.

Avakian shelved the tapes on Mulligan's request, and the project officially died when Avakian left Columbia. Gerry would remember the lessons he'd learned from this abortive project when he formed his Concert Jazz Band, which did have the looseness of a small group.

January 11, 2009 · 0 comments


Sonny Rollins: I've Told Ev'ry Little Star

Shortly after this West Coast session, Sonny Rollins returned to New York and withdrew from the jazz scene for close to 3 years, during which he was often found practicing on the Williamsburg Bridge. He once said of this period in his storied career, "I was getting very famous at the time and I felt I needed to brush up on various aspects of my craft. I felt I was getting too much, too soon, so I said, wait a minute, I'm going to do it my way. I wasn't going to let people push me out there so I could fall down. I wanted to get myself together on my own."

While he emerged from his self-imposed exile to produce some of his finest music (including the aptly titled The Bridge), his final pre-hiatus recording did nothing to suggest a "brush up" was in order. Hawes, Kessel, Vinnegar and Manne provided Rollins a unique backdrop for the playful execution of his deft song choices, from "The Song Is You" and "Alone Together" to the more oddball "Rock a Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody" and this Hammerstein/Kern standard. It's always fun to hear Rollins play over a "singsong-y" standard – he unearths an intricate web of melodic ideas that validates the inclusion of nearly any tune he chooses, as is the case here. His superior solo is coupled by the rather amazing interplay of Hawes and Kessel. These two are both comping, sometimes heavily, throughout much of this tune. Miraculously, they never get in each other's (or Rollins's) way.

September 16, 2008 · 0 comments


Arnett Cobb: The Way You Look Tonight

Arnett Cobb, the "Wild Man of the Tenor Sax," replaced Illinois Jacquet in Lionel Hampton's band in 1942 and helped give Hamp his second big hit on the remake of the vibraphonist's theme song, "Flying Home." Cobb stylistically bridged the gap between swing and rhythm and blues, with the extroverted approach of such "Texas Tenors" as Jacquet, Buddy Tate, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Gene Ammons. By the time of the 1960 session that included this track, Cobb had suffered serious physical setbacks – spinal surgery in 1948, and crushed legs caused by a car accident in 1956 – yet his showy, demonstrative musical personality remained largely intact.

Here he essays Jerome Kern's theme with a gruff tone, alternating elongated, breathy notes with punched-out flurries. The piece is arranged as an exchange of short statements between Cobb and pianist Red Garland, except for one lengthier excursion by each. Cobb's full solo raises the dynamic level as he testifies with assertive riff-like phrases and bluesy exhortations, under relaxed control in comparison to his somewhat exaggerated "Wild Man" moniker. As for Garland, his lightly frolicking runs eventually give way to his more somber trademark block chords. Cobb returns to sweet-talk the melody before a gradual fadeout. Kudos as always to audio engineer Rudy Van Gelder.

August 22, 2008 · 0 comments


Erroll Garner: Yesterdays

While his trio arrangements typically included a solo piano introduction, "Yesterdays" (originally from the 1933 Broadway musical Roberta) is a fantastic window into Erroll Garner's solo piano concept. In one of his earliest recordings after his New York arrival, Garner's appreciation of the great Art Tatum is evident from his use of customary Tatum techniques, including offbeat left-hand chordal accents, expansive runs covering the length of keyboard, walking tenths, harmonic substitutions, and a few of Tatum's signature right-hand fills. In this arrangement, Garner exhibits the masterful sense of form and variation of a skilled composer.

August 19, 2008 · 0 comments


Stochelo Rosenberg: All The Things You Are

It doesn't matter how many times you may have heard or played this tune. Sinti phenomenon Stochelo Rosenberg has done the near-impossible, breathing new life into one of the most overworked numbers in the American Songbook, ironically with timeworn tools borrowed from the genres of classical, fusion and Gypsy jazz.

Right out of the gate, you know this isn't a standard version of Jerome Kern's popular warhorse. Following a unison intro worthy of Return to Forever, a Baroque-like extrapolation of the familiar theme sets up Stochelo's high-energy, staccato solo work. While staying within a disciplined framework of 16th notes, he muscles through some of the most challenging changes in the jazz repertoire with fire and intensity. Then, just when you thought there was nothing left to say, Mozes parts the Fret Sea and lets his fingers go. Swinging just enough to lull the senses into complacency, he quickly builds to a level of volatility equal to Stochelo's pyrotechnics.

I believe it was Robin Nolan who said, "We'll never catch up to the Gypsy guitarists." This track is a prime example of why this may be a truism. It's all the things we can only hope to be, and then some.

August 04, 2008 · 0 comments


Jason Seizer: All the Things You Are

No need to ask who German tenor player Jason Seizer was influenced by: Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh are the obvious answers (probably through Mark Turner, by the way). Here Seizer not only tackles "All the Tings," a frequent warhorse of Tristano alumni, but does so without quoting the written melody until the last few seconds of the track – another a trademark of cool school musicians for whom paraphrasing standards and carving countermelodies to their themes was a daily exercise in creativity. How does that way of playing work with this basically unknown German musician? On the one hand, it is quite refreshing compared to all the post-bop addicts roaming the international jazz scene. On the other hand, Seizer's sound and phrasing are not distinctive enough yet, and his efforts might not sound quite as interesting without Marc Copland's challenging chordal support. So we have a personality worth taking account of but that needs competition and a stimulating surrounding on a regular basis to better develop its budding potential.

July 31, 2008 · 0 comments


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