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The 3rd Weekly High Fidelity Friday: 5 Jazz Tunes About Places

July 1, 2011

Jazz Tunes About Places

By Alex MacNeil

 

April in Paris – Gilad Hekselman (words unspoken)
No link to this one. Buy this album.  Gilad is for me, the perfect combination of traditional and modern jazz elements on the scene today. His concerts at Smalls Jazz club (New York) are available for LIVE STREAMING.

Gilad glides through the changes making 5/4 (which is not native to the original tune) feel effortless. His tone is something to be marvelled at. He maintains the acoustic properties of traditional archtop tone without sounding like a throw-back. His chord choices could make Ed Bickert jealous and his lines are part of a unique melodic vocabulary.

In regards to the tune itself, if you have ever been to Paris, you’ll relate. All the longing and romance you could ask for.

 

Concierto de Aranjuez – Composed by Joaquin Rodrigo, Arranged by Gil Evans, Featuring Miles Davis
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVZq9Lk2hYQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emd0vJfyk2E&feature=related

Gil Evans is Jazz’s most famous arranger, and not without proper cause. His work with Miles and Mulligan on The Birth of the Cool changed the musical landscape of the time, and introduced New York to the Cool Jazz which would become paramount to the development of the West Coast sound.

This particular tune comes from the record Sketches of Spain, the third in the four large ensemble Gil Evans collaborations to happen between 1957 and 1962.  It is a re-working of the famous guitar concerto by Joaquin Rodrigo who famously did not enjoy Gil’s arrangement. I disagree, respectively with Mr. Rodrigo and dig Gil’s distinctive sound.

 

Autumn in New York – Billie Holiday
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuzltUeITpw

This is the definitive recording of this tune. Recorded in 1945, there is just enough roughness to her aging voice that it makes for an extremely endearing, warm recording. Holiday has a huge talent for interpretation, and as it is often the case, her masterful vocal inflections hint that the lyrics have strong significance for her, making this rendition sound like a personal reflection.

 

 

 

 

Israel – Bill Evans, Paul Motian and Scott LeFaro
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGdr93tnNMk

I dig this trio a bunch. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it is my favourite of Evans’ trios. Paul Motian is a total monster, and Bill swings so lightly, freely and with a touch that is to die for. It’s far from that bright attack of somebody like Oscar Peterson, it’s dark but intense.

 

 

 

 

 

A Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square – Anita O’Day
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWKLgE21GeM

Very cool rendition of this tune. Anita is highly, highly underrated. I really like the music box-esque arppegiated intro that adds a naive, romantic charm to the tune that she does in her studio recording, but I chose this live recording because it shows off Anita’s talent for playing with the time during the rubato sections. If you like this, check out Anita’s box set on Verve, or also check out her set at the Newport Jazz Festival from 1958. The Newport performance is one of those unforgettable concerts, comparable to Jimmi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight, or Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra from the Royal Festival Hall in London.

In regards to the tune, there is a very funny wikipedia article about its origin and I’ll just post that for you. Hope it gives you a chuckle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Nightingale_Sang_in_Berkeley_Square_%28song%29

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