Jack Teagarden (with Louis Armstrong): Stars Fell On Alabama

By 1946, when Jack Teagarden resurrected his career with Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars, “Stars Fell On Alabama” had long been entrenched in the trombonist's repertoire. It was one of many features for Teagarden during his tenure in the Armstrong group.

The tune begins with his highly decorated trombone style, skillfully implying the melody while showing off his virtuosic technique. Teagarden weaves lines together with note values that aren't quite eighths, triplets or sixteenths, creating rhythmic tension which he resolves precisely at the end of each phrase. In the next chorus, he sings the melody in his deep, relaxed baritone. Teagarden's understated vocal style is a stark contrast to his adroit trombone playing. His intonation is excellent, and his reading conveys the restrained, nostalgic joy of the song's lyrics.

Also of note on this recording is Armstrong's work as Teagarden's temporary sideman. Even though it's his gig, Armstrong keeps the audience focused on Jack for the whole song, only complimenting him with well-placed interjections. He even lets Teagarden lead the brief, energetic buildup into his last chorus of trombone melody. Armstrong's only big moment comes at the very end of the song, when he leads the charge out of Teagarden's vocal into the last chord, which Teagarden smoothly punctuates with one last arpeggio.

July 14, 2009 · 0 comments


Cannonball Adderley: Stars Fell on Alabama

Featuring members of the Miles Davis sextet minus Miles, this session was recorded as an aside from an engagement at the Sutherland Lounge in Chicago. Most of the album showcases the stylistic differences between Cannonball and Coltrane, but "Stars Fell on Alabama" gives Cannonball a chance to show off his lyrical phrasing and wonderfully rich alto sound. Using the language of Charlie Parker but with a style uniquely his own, Cannonball effortlessly weaves between single, double and even quadruple time, floating on top of the steady groove of the rhythm section. A beautiful example of Cannonball at his best.

November 19, 2007 · 0 comments


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