Herbie Hancock: Someday My Prince Will Come

Why does Herbie Hancock always save his best solo work for the Japanese market? When he was at the high point (low point?) of his career as a "fusion" artist, he released a solid, serious, solo keyboard effort called Dedication -- but only in Japan. I had to convert the holdings of my piggy bank into yen and find an import-export agent just to sniff the vinyl. The Piano is much the same story: a great collection of solo piano performances, but kept out of the US market for 25 years. "Someday My Prince Will Come" is a smart reworking of the famous Disney soundtrack song, with constant change-ups in mood, dynamics and attack. Although Hancock has recorded some 50 recordings as a leader, there are very few examples of him playing standards without accompaniment. This is one of the finest.

December 18, 2007 · 0 comments


Dave Brubeck: Someday My Prince Will Come

This was a turbulent period for the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The ensemble was still adapting to its new label (Columbia) and maintaining a hectic recording and performing schedule. The arrival of Joe Morello in the band had created friction with Paul Desmond -- who would only gradually come to terms with the master percussionist -- and with bassist Norman Bates, who would soon depart from the group. Eventually all the pieces would fit together, but right now Brubeck was holding it together, establishing the personality of the band from the keyboard. When he signals a shift from waltz time to 2/4 at the 5-minute mark, everybody follows his lead. And when he decides to waltz a short time later, waltz comes back into fashion. A few years later, Miles would record this same piece on a memorable date with Coltrane. But Brubeck was digging Disney before it was cool.

December 03, 2007 · 0 comments


Miles Davis: Someday My Prince Will Come

Jazz waltzes were still fairly rare back in 1961, and Paul Chambers' pedal point intro keeps the meter a mystery during the opening seconds. Cobb is part of the conspiracy, and refuses to signal the downbeat, while Wynton Kelly floats over their throbbing pulse. These opening feints -- forty seconds of sweetness and light -- are worth the price of admission alone . . . but then Miles enters and shows how he can put his stamp on a song just by playing the melody. His solo is a minimalist canvas, perfectly matched by Kelly's crisp comping. The swing gets stronger with Mobley's tenor and during Kelly's solo, but when Coltrane enters with his "sheets of sound" the temperature in the studio rises at least ten degrees. The handsome prince has arrived on a Harley, ready to burn rubber. But Chambers rushes back like a protective dueña, instilling decorum with his pedal point, and this magical performance makes a complete circle back to its starting point. What a ride!

December 02, 2007 · 0 comments


Ron Carter: Someday My Prince Will Come

Ron Carter's ensembles often bring a wry sense of humor to their performances. This song is especially susceptible to tongue-in-cheek interpretation. Snow White's bedtime song for dwarfs somehow made its strange path from (Walt) Disney to (Miles) Davis -- probably via Dave Brubeck, who handled the first jazz recording of the tune in 1957. Carter starts with a brief homage to the famous intro from Miles' classic recording, before unfolding his elaborate variations. The melody floats around in a calming lilt before entering the turbulence of a queasy turnaround, which seems undecided on whether to modulate or stay in B flat. Pianist Scott proceeds to test out wry Monkish dissonances, polytonal games with the melody, and a bit of hard bop funkiness -- trying on various costumes in an attempt to discover his own musical identity. When we return to the melody, we are temporarily in the key of B -- a key that Snow White reportedly detested -- but we soon get back to where we started, with that throbbing Paul Chambers pedal point, followed by a rubato coda. Unfortunately all seven dwarfs were still awake and demanding an encore.

December 01, 2007 · 0 comments


Miles Davis: Someday My Prince Will Come (alt. take)

My joy in listening to most of Davis’s transformations throughout his career makes picking a favorite period nothing short of pure folly. That said, this ensemble will always rank high on the list of his great rhythm sections. It’s great to contrast this alternate version of the title track with the original (played by the same quintet plus John Coltrane). I love Kelly’s fantastic punctuations during Miles solo, and just listen to the whole band swell up to greet the entrance of Mobley's tenor sax solo. Magic!

November 21, 2007 · 0 comments


Previous Page | Next Page