Tuesday, April 28, 2009

After You're Gone: an Errol Garner tribute

Peter Cincotti – a tribute to stride pianist Erroll Garner
Live performance at New Morning Jazz Club, NYC (2004)

After You’ve Gone (1918)
Words by Henry Creamer, music by Turner Layton

This song was introduced by Al Jolson at the Wintergarden Theater (NYC) in 1918. It was originally conceived as a ballad, but gained popularity as an up-tempo number. Shirley Horn recorded it in 1963 as a slow ballad and made it convincing. Gene Krupa’s 1941 performance has become a jazz classic.

Another rendition by guitarist John Pizzarelli and his trio:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sway - Peter Cincotti

Peter Cincotti (piano & vocals)

is the English version of "¿Quién será?", a 1953 mambo song by Mexican composer and bandleader Pablo Beltrán Ruiz. In 1954 English language lyrics were written by Norman Gimbel and recorded by Dean Martin, whose rendition reached number fifteen on the Billboard magazine best-seller chart.

The English version begins:
"When marimba rhythms start to play, dance with me, make me sway".

The Spanish version begins:
"Quien será el que me quiere a mi? Quien será?, quien será?".

Native New Yorker Peter Cincotti is a 25-year-old singer, songwriter, and jazz pianist (born 1983). In 2002, at nineteen years old, he reached No. 1 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Charts, the youngest solo artist to do so. Several of his songs have been featured in movies, and he won an award at the 2000 Montreux Jazz Festival for a rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Max Roach

Max Roach, who died in 2007, was one of the most accomplished and influential drummers of the 20th century, a master of poly-rhythms and unpredictable beats. He was the pioneer and grand master of "melodic drumming," teaching the world of jazz that drums could make musical statements, and not just keep time in the background.

He played with jazz legends, notably Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and helped father the style of jazz called Bebop. His innovative way of playing defied expectations and elevated the drums from background instrument to lead.

An NPR special about Max Roach, hosted by Nancy Wilson:

Caravan, performed by Max Roach and Randy Weston

Thursday, April 9, 2009

But Beautiful -- Charles McPherson, alto sax

The jazz ballad But Beautiful has music by Jimmy Van Heusen, lyrics by Johnny Burke.

Charles McPherson – alto sax
Steve Kuhn – piano
David Williams – bass
Leroy Williams – drums

Charles McPherson was born in Joplin, Missouri, but moved to Detroit at age nine. McPherson started playing jazz professionally at age 19, moving to New York in 1959. He performed with Charles Mingus from 1960 to 1972, collaborating frequently George Coleman (tenor sax).

McPherson was recently featured at Lincoln Center showcasing his original compositions and arrangements with a seven piece ensemble. McPherson has recorded as guest artist with Charlie Mingus, Barry Harris, Art Farmer, Kenny Drew, Toshiko Akiyoshi, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Charles was also the featured alto saxophonist in the Clint Eastwood film "Bird," a biography about Charlie Parker.

McPherson remains a strong, viable force on the jazz scene today. He is at the height of his powers. His playing combines passionate feeling with intricate patterns of improvisation. Throughout his four decades of being an integral performer of the music, Charles has not merely remained true to his BOP origins, but has expanded on them.

The distinctive lyrics, with their clever rhymes, come through clearly in this interpretation by Nat King Cole:

Love is funny, or it's sad,
Or it's quiet, or it's mad.
It's a good thing, or it's bad,
But beautiful...

Beautiful to take a chance
And if you fall, you fall,
And I'm thinking,
I wouldn't mind at all.

Love is tearful, or it's gay,
It's a problem, or it's play.
It's a heartache either way,
But beautiful...

And I'm thinking, if you were mine,
I'd never let you go.
And that would be but beautiful,
I know.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Know What I Mean? - Cannonball Adderley

Composed by Bill Evans


Bill Evans, Piano
Cannonball Adderley, Alto Sax
Percy Heath, Bass
Conny Kay, Drums

Know What I Mean? was created in 1961 in the recording studio by Evans, at Adderley's special request. Its modal style suggests the days when he and Bill were with Miles Davis (Kind of Blue), and its title derives from a phrase Cannonball was fond of using (!).