As the weekend slopes in, it would be unseemly to assail my readers with another lump of linguistics, so I have decided to add music to this blog. I begin with jazz. Strictly speaking, one of the following songs is more bossa nova than jazz, and one or two others are more funk or fusion. On the other hand they are all jazzy enough, except perhaps for one, and jazz does not speak strictly.
To those of you who are not jazz fans, but might be, fear not: nothing below is too squeaky, frenetic or outré. Most of the songs are old but still sound fresh, even the Four Freshmen’s; if you want something new, skip to the last song. All of the videos bar one are hosted on YouTube, and a few are embedded in the blog. There are also links to the musicians’ home pages or online biographies.
Fats Waller, Your Feet’s Too Big
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra, Jumpin’ Jive, featuring the Nicholas Brothers, in the film Stormy Weather (1943)
Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli and the Hot Club of France, unknown track (.mov)
Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, The Mooche
Four Freshmen, Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Like You
Nina Simone, Ain’t Got No (I Got Life):
Dizzy Gillespie, Rodney Jones and friends, unknown track
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, The Sinister Minister
Although I like my jazz “squeaky, frenetic or outré”, I have a fondness for a drop of the traditional stuff every now and again, and you’ve put some very fine examples of it here.
“jazz does not speak strictly” Well said! It doesn’t matter if it’s fusion or trad or free, as long as it’s good music. And as the Duke himself said (or was it Louis Armstrong): “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!”
Doubtful: A future Link Love post might wander into more unusual jazz terrain, as well as including more of the standard greats. Or combine the two, e.g. Miles Davis’s beautiful squeaks from outer space. I do like experimental music – when I like it! – but for the inaugural music post I shamelessly played to the crowd.
Fun time! That jazz scene brought me back to my youth. We knew Fats Waller well. We also paid much attention then to New Orleans bepop: Armstrong, Kid Ory, Sydney Bechet and plus. For me, the rhythm was always a source of wonder. I always tried to transpose it in the classical piano I was learning. Never had much success into making J.S.Bach “swing”! I bet you Fazil Say could! (see Omnium: The Rites of Spring:March 21)
Claudia: You knew Fats Waller? Wow! He was amazing – jazz seemed to just flow through him, and he smiled like the Cheshire Cat. It’s funny that you mention transposing classical rhythms to jazz rhythms: I remember trying the same thing. After learning Bach’s Invention No.13 in A minor, I took to playing it in a lazy swing style. The result was surprisingly listenable! But I’m sure Fazil Say would produce something much more memorable.
Stan, I’m laughing my heart out here. I was still crawling when Fats Waller died… I should have said: we knew OF him well, when my friends and I became interested in the jazz scene. We had Oscar Peterson, in Montreal, playing in discos. As musicians ourselves, we saw that he was different than the regular nightclubs’ players. We did some research. Then, later on, I married an ex-British Navy who, in his 20s, had been on leave, a few times, in New Orleans. He fell for that jazz and brought the music into our home. He never listened to my Bach playing, even to my poor attempts to jazz it up…..You must have a greater sense of rhythm than I had! It’s fun to dig into my past. Thanks!
Ah, if I had thought about it for a moment I wouldn’t have made such a silly mistake. Thank you for reminding me of Oscar Peterson, whose magic fingers are now providing the soundtrack to my late afternoon!
I imagine there is no better place to fall for jazz than New Orleans.
BTW, I’m of the Leonard Cohen generation (a wee bit younger.) Of him I can say: I know him well! He is from Montreal, and I heard him nearly right from the beginning, when, dressed in his (now legendary) black suit, he sang “Suzanne takes you down”, to small groups of people, in school auditoriums. He was (still is) magic, and connected instantly with his audience.
I thought (as you’re having music posts) I would brag, now and again, of the artists I’ve met along the way.
Leonard Cohen’s black suit is legendary and so is the man in it. He is well worth a brag! I seem to remember my uncle saying he met him once on a Greek island; they had a chat over lunch, I think.