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Posts Tagged ‘jazz’

We may never never meet again, on that bumpy road to love
Still I’ll always, always keep the memory of

The way you hold your knife
The way we danced until three
The way you changed my life
No, no they can’t take that away from me
No, they can’t take that away from me

–George and Ira Gershwin, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, 1937

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I was looking at the new painting shown at the top, 10″ by 30″ on canvas, trying to determine what it was saying to me.  For some reason, those lines from a favorite Gershwin song kept popping into my mind–We may never never meet again, on that bumpy road to love/Still I’ll always, always keep the memory of…

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the way the song tied to the image. I think I’ll keep it that way in my mind. You can’t take that away from me.

The song, You Can’t Take That Away From Me, was written by the Gershwins and first performed by Fred Astaire in the 1937 movie Shall We Dance. George Gershwin died two months after the film’s release. Since that time the song has become one of the great entries to the American songbook, performed by a seemingly endless list of jazz and pop singers. There are so many great versions of this song by some of the greatest vocalists of all time that it’s hard to pick one that might stand out for everybody.

For myself, I always come back to the Billie Holiday covers. She started performing the song in 1937 and I like those early performances but the one below from 1957 is a favorite, a great version with top notch players backing her.

Give a listen. And pay heed to those deep memories that no one can take away from you.

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GC Myers- Signals 2006It’s Sunday morning and I want to play one of my all-time favorite songs, Nature Boy.  It’s an extraordinary song from an unusual character by the name of eden ahbez, who I have written about before here on the blog, who wrote the song specifically for Nat King Cole.  The story of ahbez and how the song came into the hands of Nat King Cole is really interesting but the result was a glorious rendition of the song by Cole that remained locked on the charts at #1 for eight weeks in 1948.

Spare and elegant, it is an absolutely gorgeous song which I think is evidenced by the many, many fine versions of it through the years by a wide range of artists.  I thought for today I would stray from the Nat King Cole performance, as perfect as it is, to focus on versions by two other giants of jazz, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis.  The first video is a wonderful piece of animation from artist Ros Lukman that has the inimitable Ella Fitzgerald accompanied by guitarist Joe Pass.  Just a great version as is Miles Davis’ interpretation  which is immediately below it.

Relax and give a listen. Have a good Sunday…


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GC Myers- In the RhythmI can’t really tell you how my show went last night.  I wish I could but my psychic powers have been on the weak side lately.  Actually, I am writing this on Friday because I most likely won’t be back in the studio in time to put up my Sunday morning music and it is such a regular habit for me that it bothers me when I miss a week.

But I will go out on a limb and guess that last night I saw a lot of folks that I haven’t talked to in a while, that everyone at the Kada Gallery treated me great and that it was, all in all, a wonderful night.  Fortunately, with only a rare exception or two, most of my shows have followed that simple script.

I will let you know if there was any deviation from the norm in the next day or two.

Today’s music is a jazz classic, Caravan, composed by the great Duke Ellington in 1936 and performed by a wide spectrum of jazz artists.  There are over 350 recorded versions of this song from Ellington’s band alone.  But the version I chose is from the late jazz pianist Kenny Drew , Jr.  I think it’s a really impressive version.

To accompany it, I chose a painting, In the Rhythm, from the Kada show that I think has a rhythm and feel that matches that of the song.  So give a listen and have a great Sunday.

 

 

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Bill Evans aTime for some Sunday morning music and the gray skies here today along with everything else that is going on call for something a bit slower and quiet in tone.  I thought I would feature the piano of the great Bill Evans (1929-1980) and the song My Foolish Heart.

I chose this song because it’s a fairly good live recording and I like watching the hands of musicians, especially guitarists and pianists, when they play.  I don’t know much about music in technical terms but the differences in the way  musicians play is striking to me, adding a whole new dimension to the work.  For example, when I watch legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson play I am struck by the fluidity and nimbleness of his hands.  They have an extremely delicate and graceful bounce.

But watching Evans perform this song is, to me,  more about those unplayed parts of the music– the pauses and silences that fill the air of the piece.  Couple this with his body movements and positions and it makes for a mesmerizing performance.  Really nice stuff for a gray Sunday morning.

So take a look and give listen.  Hope you have a great day…

 

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Paris - Pont des Arts 1953 Henri Cartier BressonI just don’t know.

I am still trying to make sense of the attacks in Paris, trying to understand the logic of terrorism and how people are convinced to follow any quasi-religious group that advances its beliefs through such violence.  It all defies logic and that is a terrifying thing because how can you fight against, let alone negotiate with, such an illogical entity?

What is lacking that would drive people to such acts?  What is missing that drives young people to join these groups in order to give their lives to hurt and kill others? Is it real religious conviction or is it just a matter of them feeling a sense of purpose that they either can’t find or refuse to feel in the world in which they were raised?

I just don’t know.  But I  do fear that this marks a tipping point, that we are in for a long and even uglier struggle, if you can imagine that,  going forward.  It may be that we are already in the beginning days of a type of World War III as the Pope has said recently.  I hope not but when you are dealing with the illogical there’s no telling where this goes.

But my heart bleeds for the people of France.  Part of me wants to jump on a plane to Paris just as a sort of ‘screw you’ to those who wish that country harm, just to let them know that their terror based on a warped and hateful religious vision will not stand up to people who try to live by the motto, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

Liberty. Equality. Fraternity.  These are the uniting qualities of humanity, not just of France, and will not be taken away through a campaign based on fear and hatred.  These are words that we need now more than in any time in the recent past.

Okay, let’s take deep breath.  Today’s Sunday music is a fitting tribute written by the great American songwriter, Cole Porter.  Although there are many, many great versions out there, I chose this one from jazz great Etta Jones–  not to be confused with Etta James of “At Last” fame.  Have a great day and keep the people of France in your thoughts. Here’s  I Love Paris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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GC Myers- Jazz ( Song One)The artist is a man who finds that the form or shape of things externally corresponds, in some strange way, to the movements of his mental and emotional life.

Graham Collier 

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I have been working on dream inspired patterned forms, as I’ve noted here several times recently.  I have been incorporating into the layers that make up my skies in simple landscapes where they serve to give added depth and texture.  It works really well in that context and it would be easy to just use it in that way.

But there is something about some of them that make me just push them to the forefront alone without masking them with any representational forms over them.  Something beyond narrative.  Elemental.  Like it is somehow tied to my own internal shapes and forms and patterns.

I was thinking this when I came across the quote at the top from the late jazz musician/composer Graham Collier.  It made so much sense because I think that is, in general, the attraction of art  for me– it’s an external harmony of internal elements.

I didn’t know much about Collier who died in 2011.  He was a bassist/bandleader/composer who was the first British grad of the Berklee College of Music.  He played around the world and also wrote extensively on jazz but he still wasn’t on my radar.  While I like jazz my knowledge, as it is in many things,  is pretty shallow.  So I decided that i should listen to some of Collier’s music.

The first song I heard was titled  Song One (Seven-Four) and it just clicked for me.  It was so familiar and seemed to be right in line with the piece at the top, a 12″ by 12″ painting on masonite panel.  It made me think about the connection with music, how sounds often take the form of shapes and colors in the minds of both musicians and listeners.

Again, very elemental.

So I began to think of these newer pieces as music.  It creates a context that makes sense for my mind, one that gives me a way of looking at the work without seeking representational forms.  It’s an exciting thing for me and I look forward to some newer explorations in this realm in the near future. For Graham Collier’s clarification, I am calling the piece at the top Jazz ( Song One).  Here it is :

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black coffeeTime for some Sunday morning music and since I was up extra early this morning the idea of something to pick me up seems like a good idea.  Something like some black coffee.

Not the drink, though I am sipping my coffee as I write. I mean the song.

The sultry Black Coffee was written in 1948 by Sonny Burke and originally recorded by Sarah Vaughan and a few years later by Peggy Lee. There have been many, many covers of this song and most are very good. But there are four versions that really stick out for me, all very distinctly different. They are Vaughan’s original, the one from Peggy Lee, k.d. lang‘s darkly twangy version and the one I am featuring this morning from the great and grand Ella Fitzgerald.

Her version is elegantly spare with her voice and piano interweaving beautifully. It is darkly tinged but there is such strength in her phrasing that it keeps the song feeling surprisingly upbeat. Just a great, great song.

A little bit of trivia about this version: It was the favorite song of Nobel Prize winning poetess Wislawa Szymborska , who requested it be performed at her funeral. You might remember Szymborska from a blog entry here last month that featured her poem Possibilities.

So,give a listen as you sip the morning beverage of your choice.  Maybe a little black coffee…

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krupa ball of fireI’m running a little late this morning and thought I’d fill today with a little music.  It’s a great piece of film from legendary drummer Gene Krupa and his trio doing Big Noise From Winnetka.  I’ve been a big fan of Krupa since first seeing him perform the very swinging Drum Boogie in the Barabara Stanwyck/Gary Cooper movie, Ball of Fire.  Avery flamboyant and strong presence on the stage, he was more famously known for his work on the classic Benny Goodman track, Sing, Sing, Sing, which is the anthem of big band swing.

Anyway, give a listen and watch for some of Krupa’s famous showmanship.  It’s just good stuff and a great way to kick off a tired Tuesday morning.

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Blues Twilight Cover Richard BoulgerMost  mornings in the studio I will click on to the Pandora site for a little music while I write the blog.  Normally I will choose the  Chet Baker channel which is a blend of his music along with many others in a wide variety of jazz styles.  I find that it’s a great sound to drive my thoughts without overpowering them, energetic and moody at once.  Being able to step in and out of the music while I am thinking make it a great soundtrack to work by in the morning.

Listening to this has exposed me to a lot of artists and their music that were unknown to me beforehand.  Can’t say I know much about jazz or its history, primarily a few of the better known tracks from the legends.  But I try to keep an open mind and don’t turn myself off to it because of my own lack of knowledge, an attitude I hope a lot of folks who say they know nothing about art will maintain as well.  Try it on– maybe it will fit you better than you might think.

So, for this week’s Sunday music I chose a piece from a musician that was totally unknown to me not too long ago, Richard Boulger.  His horn work is beautiful and his compositions flow really well.  I heard this piece one morning and was totally taken by it and now find myself listening to it once or twice a day now while I paint.  It just fits me well.

Here’s Miss Sarah from Boulger’s 2008 album Blues Twilight.  Hope you’ll enjoy it and have a great Sunday.

 

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GC Myers  The Blue Cool This is another small painting that is part of  the Little Gems exhibit opening this coming Friday at the West End Gallery.  This is a little 3″ by 5″ piece on paper that I call The Blue Cool.  I guess that it arose from the current frigid temps that we are in here in the Northeast.  The sky here is in three blocks of an aqua blue color that has a transparency that makes them seem like thin slabs of ice.  I don’t know if this quality shows up on the computer screen  but when this piece was in the studio I always felt like holding it up to the light to see light shine through the ice that I felt like I was seeing.

It’s a simple meditative piece, what I like to typically see in these small works.  The small scale lends itself to simplicity.  Maybe this built-in restraint is one of the reasons why I enjoy painting these small pieces and why I feel they often work so well.

I don’t know for sure.  And I think that uncertainty or puzzlement  is sometimes a good thing.  It creates a sense of wonder and surprise and that is always a good thing.

I thought for this week’s Sunday music I would stick with the Blue theme and some blue cool jazz from one of my favorites, the late great Chet Baker.  The song is Born to be Blue which is also the title of a film currently in production about Baker’s life with Ethan Hawke portraying the gifted but tragic trumpeter.  His story reads like a screenplay– Golden Boy of jazz with movie-star looks loses everything to drug addiction and violence and tries to find redemption.  I’ve thought for years that it was meant to be a film and now it is, hopefully one that does the story justice.

When I listen to Baker’s music, I hear it with that same sense of uncertainty and puzzlement I alluded to above.  There’s just something natural and right in it that can’t be, or shouldn’t be, defined.  It just is.  Give a listen and have a great Sunday.

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