Mel Torme & The Marty Paich Dek-tette: Lullaby Of Birdland

"Lullaby of Birdland" is an anomaly in the recordings of Mel Tormé and the Marty Paich Dek-tette. Although Mel's scat singing was prominently featured on the Reunion albums of the late 1980s, "Lullaby" was the only cut from the original set of recordings to feature a scat solo. At nearly 5 minutes, "Lullaby" was the longest track on the first Dek-tette LP, and it features Mel's scatting for most of its length. It starts with Mel and Red Mitchell in duet with Mel Lewis joining in at the bridge. As Tormé starts scatting, the saxes enter, backing the singer with a unison figure. As usual with Tormé, his improvisations are an even mix of original ideas and song quotes, but he puts the ideas together so skillfully, the listener loses track of each idea's paternity. In the next chorus, Torm� trades ideas with Pete Candoli, Don Fagerquist and Bob Enevoldsen (the latter on valve trombone - for the moment). Then the saxes return (with Enevoldsen on tenor) with a tightly-arranged figure, to which Tormé offers a scatted response. The figure is repeated for the next 8 bars. The sax figure is a Paich self-quote - it was originally the introduction for his arrangement of " My Thrill", written for a Shelly Manne LP a couple of years earlier. Tormé said that hearing that recording inspired him to work with Paich. As an acknowledgement of that inspiration, Paich included the figure in the "Lullaby" arrangement. After a brass-dominated bridge, we return to Tormé, Mitchell and Lewis with a short reprise of the opening chorus. Lewis drops out after 8 bars as Tormé and Mitchell fade into the distance.

August 06, 2009 · 0 comments


Sarah Vaughan: Lullaby of Birdland

Vaughan always makes the hard stuff look easy. When bebop was shaking up the older musicians and rewriting the rules of jazz, Vaughan was mixing it up with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie on the bandstand and in the recording studio, as comfortable with their revolutionary sounds as she had been singing and playing the piano, as a child in Newark, at the New Mount Zion Baptist Church. Vaughan continued to expand her horizons during the 1950s and, on this high-profile session, she floats effortlessly over George Shearing's changes, and trades fours with the front line. Her scat-singing is first rate, and my only complaint is that the great trumpeter Clifford Brown -- who would be killed in car accident 18 months after this session -- isn't given more space to blow. His brief exchange with Vaughan on this track leaves us longing for more.

November 21, 2007 · 0 comments


Dianne Reeves: Lullaby of Birdland

Reeves made her name singing contemporary pop-jazz with crossover appeal. But now in her 50s, she has adopted a more traditional approach, as demonstrated on this Sarah Vaughan tribute and her efforts on the soundtrack to Good Night, and Good Luck. Reeves sings with admirable technical command, and Childs pulls out all the stops with the orchestra, but it is hard to find a compelling reason to recommend nostalgia disks of this sort when many listeners haven't heard Vaughan's classic version of the song from 1954. Reeves fans will want this for their collection, but listeners searching for some fresh jazz sounds are advised to look elsewhere.

November 20, 2007 · 0 comments


George Shearing: Lullaby of Birdland

In 1952, inspiration struck George Shearing just as he was biting into his char-broiled steak. "What's wrong?" asked his wife, afraid he didn't like her cooking. George dashed to the piano and, within 10 minutes, finished a theme song for midtown Manhattan's "Jazz Corner of the World." The royalties kept him in gravy for decades. His tasty tune was char-broiled >400 times by jazz artists, with countless warm-overs by non-jazz chefs from Prez Prado and Bill Haley to The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic and The Muppets. Early birds may get the worm, but latecomers can still enjoy steak.

November 09, 2007 · 0 comments


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