Harry Babasin: These Foolish Things

Throughout the 1940s, Harry Babasin performed with several luminaries of the jazz community including Charlie Barnet, Benny Goodman and Laurindo Almeida. During a break from filming the movie A Song Is Born, Babasin picked up a cello that happened to be on set and enjoyed the timbral quality of the instrument. In order to accommodate himself to the instrument, he tuned the cello in fourths instead of the traditional fifths.

Babasin became the first jazz bassist to double on the cello, recording his first solo on December 3, 1947 with the Dodo Marmarosa Trio. In 1953, Babasin recorded an album with fellow bassist/cellist Oscar Pettiford, further building the profile of the cello in jazz. And in 1957, he showcased his expertise on the instrument with his feature on the song “These Foolish Things.”

After a four bar introduction, Babasin performs a series of brief phrases before building into a longer passage. Babasin employs rhythmic devices on the cello that contrasts with the ballad feel of the song, resulting in a fascinating rhythmic counterpoint. Beginning with his solo at 2:09, he blazes through the changes where he implements straight sixteenth-note phrasing and unexpected double stops then segues into a beautiful coda. A highly recommended track from an early practitioner of the cello in jazz.

September 09, 2009 · 0 comments


Mildred Bailey: These Foolish Things

After Decca failed to renew her recording contract in 1942, Mildred Bailey had a difficult time finding another company to take her on. In 1945 her recording career resumed. On this track, the legendary accompanist Ellis Larkins (who would later play for Ella, Chris Connor, and Eartha Kitt, among many others) provides the "tinkling piano in the next apartment." The other solo parts are dreamy, too. Although some people comment on the weakening of Bailey's voice in her later years, the ballads she recorded from 1945 show a new emotional depth and richness in the lower register.

September 14, 2008 · 0 comments


Sauter-Finegan Orchestra: These Foolish Things

This is more a tone poem than a big band chart. You will find no battling horn sections here, no kicks in the pants from the rhythm section. The attitude is sweet and cool, rather than hot and harried. From the introduction, the listener is tantalized with a shifting palette of instrumental textures and subtle harmonic movement. This band plays great attention to dynamics, and generates no wasted energy. Rex Peer and Nick Travis handle the solo duties, and the latter impresses with his lyricism and tone control. Travis, who died at the age of thirty-eight (from complications linked to ulcers) spent too much of his brief career doing studio work, but this track shows off his considerable skills as an improviser.

June 17, 2008 · 0 comments


Johnny Hartman: These Foolish Things

Here's my wish list. I want to have Bill Gates's bank account, Tom Cruise's smile, Tiger Woods's putting game and . . . Johnny Hartman's voice. Yep, this is how every guy wants to sound. You will never get put on hold when you phone customer service. Heck, the lovely ladies will never hang up on you again. You won't need that Tom Cruise smile any more. You can even get away with singing silly phrases like: "The cigarette that bears lipstick traces / An airline ticket to exotic places." It's a shame Mr. Hartman didn't make more jazz records. But we can enjoy the ones he left behind. He is especially fine with a slow, moody ballad, as he demonstrates on this track.

May 06, 2008 · 1 comment


Billie Holiday: These Foolish Things

Sixteen years after recording it with Teddy Wilson, Billie revisits this song for a slower, deeper interpre- tation. Gone is the girlish naiveté, succeeded by the womanly wisdom of a summa cum laude graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. Now, as she catalogs those silly mementos we can't escape—"a cigarette that bears a lipstick's traces, an airline ticket to romantic places"—Billie's artistry is fully matured. Knowing her life story, it's hard not to consider Holiday a tragic figure. Hearing her music, it's impossible not to realize that, like Caesar, Billie came, saw and conquered. Her soul had wings.

December 04, 2007 · 0 comments


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