Spirits of the Songs
Well You Neednít first appeared as one of a dozen groundbreaking original compositions on Thelonious Monkís Blue Note album Genius of Modern Music Volume 1. My recording of this song with the Frank Sullivan Trio provides listeners with a fresh, new arrangement. Monkís commercial success in jazz was so great that countless musicians today include Well You Neednít in their repertoire.
The jazz standard Angel Eyes has been performed by dozens of talented musicians. The two versions I regard as the most breathtaking are by Sonny Stitt and Yusef Lateef. Stitt included the song on one of his last recording dates. Lateef used the flute on his take. Both in my eyes are required listening for anyone interested in jazz. Note that in 2001 Jennifer Lopez stared in a movie of the same name.
Willow Weep for Me was a song that Dexter Gordon recorded in the early 19060ís album Our Man in Paris on Blue Note Records. Bud Powell was the pianist for the session and I always admired his blues-based solo on the track. During the late 1990ís, it was placed on Dexterís Compilation album entitled Ballads. This marketing ploy by Blue Note brought the song into the musical library of a whole new generation of jazz listeners.
Nature Boy was a standard sung by Nat King Cole, but in my eyes the John Coltrane Quartet made it famous. On their 1965 album entitled The John Coltrane Quartet Plays, the band did an avant-garde interpretation of the song. My band takes heavily into account the Coltrane version and does a Third-Ear rock fusion based reinterpretation of the standard.
Diana Krall, along with Nora Jones, is contemporary jazzís hottest vocalist. When I heard her version of the jazz classic Cry Me a River (not to be confused with Justin Timberlakeís pop song) on her 2002 album The Look of Love, I knew right away that I wanted to perform it with my band. The Tenor Saxophone becomes the vocalist on this track.
Bounce is the original composition on this album. I adapted it from my jazz-rap collaboration with Harlem-rapper Hotlinkz. One day I was locked out of my apartment in NYC, when Hotlinkz (passing by on the street) noticed my saxophone case. We started talking and he invited to his producerís studio. The melodic theme of bounce comes from the music we recorded that day. My band provides an acid-jazz based background for the adaptation.
The version of Ruby My Dear that I enjoy the most is on the Thelonius Monk/John Coltrane album that documented a lot of the music they had been playing at New Yorkís Five Spot Jazz Cafť during the summer of 1957. The music they were playing was simply ahead of its time. This ballad gives the listener a chance to catch their breath placed in the order of my bandís music.
Out of This World is an old Harold Arlen composition that John Coltrane rearranged for his first recording session on Impulse Records. When I first listened to this version at about age 15, it really turned me onto the avant-garde movement of the 1960s. He played the song with such honesty that I thought it to be a beautiful, precious thing. You could really here his band opening up to new, futuristic methods for playing jazz.
Straight No Chaser is a standard blues once again made famous by Thelonius Monk. When he first played it in the early 1950ís, he had the melody hidden behind horns. Today that melodic line is more recognizable to more musicians and jazz fans than almost any other song. It can serve as the perfect way to start or end a jazz concert.
Mr. PC was the closing song Coltrane 1959 album Giant Steps. He was on fire playing this composition written about his bassist Paul Chambers. His solo is so famous that technical scholars have transcribed every note of it. The song is based off of a minor blues form, which allows the soloing musicians a lot of space to build an interesting improvisational statement.
The first time I heard Lullaby of the Leaves was when the motion picture soundtrack of Robert Altmanís Kansas City came out it the 1990ís. What I didnít realize at the time was that it was a 1930ís classic that Mary Lou Williams and Don Byas recorded on their famous duo album. Steven Bernstein has a great arrangement of this song on the Kansas City session mentioned above.
Enjoy the Spirits flowing forth through the Music