Monday, July 21, 2008

For your iPod

I stumbled on a couple of really interesting and cool jazz covers of novel tunes, and would like to share some with you. Anyone who has an addition, I invite you to post it.

What got me going on this (again) is discovering a couple more Brad Mehldau covers of contemporary pop tunes, I guess you'd call them.

I've noticed that Beatles tunes in particular seem hard to cover, and I started trying collect the more successful of the bunch (in my view). Mehldau in particular appears to be creating his own sort of Beatles' White Album covers, having done at least four by my count. Two of them are great and very accessible, and one (Martha My Dear) is pretty far out there, and requires some work on the listener's part (although worth it to me--it is almost more like contemporary classical music than jazz to my ear).

Besides Beatles pop/tunes, I am fascinated by covers of songs that are sort of more "kids' stuff" perhaps (e.g., Sesame Street Theme--I know Clark Terry used to cover it, but I have never found a good recorded version of it).

Anyway, here goes:

Blackbird: Brad Mehldau - really nice, pretty straightforward for Brad

Dear Prudence: Brad Mehldau - a little further afield, but a beautiful yet dissonant solo

Rainbow Connection: Nice version on a Tommy Newsom album. Tommy was the long running sax player in the Tonight Show Band whose shtick was being the polar opposite of the flamboyant Doc Severinson. But the version of Rainbow Connection on that album is a piano trio led by John F. Hammond with no horns. Anyway, it works.

Peter Cincotti does a reasonable vocal version of it as well. It is just a great tune.

She's Leaving Home: McCoy Tyner-- lush and beautiful

Eleanor Rigby: solo piano by the great Chick Corea

True Colors: Josefine Cromholm & Ibis. This is a very sparse treatment that could benefit from at some point getting a hair more traditional (like halfway through). But I find it quite arresting. I actually am also a big fan of the Cindy Lauper version that was a hit in her heyday.

Candy Man: Ray Brown trio (with Monty Alexander on piano)

Pure Imagination: (like Candy Man, also from the original Willie Wonka movie): Monty Alexander

Still Crazy After All These Years: Brad Mehldau

I've Just Seen a Face: John Pizzareli - I'm not huge fan of Pizzareli (not a hater either, mind you), but this is a great version of this tune

Further out there:

Brad Mehldau: Martha My Dear & 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (you have to get about 3 & 7 minutes into the latter before you can recognize the verse and chorus, respectively)

Nobody Does It Better (the Marvin Hamlisch Bond movie tune): Sex Mob. Check it out, the leader plays a slide trumpet. Also, he likes to record things the first time the musicians have ever played through a tune, to capture the freshness and spontaneity of it.

Not quite on point, but you also might check out a couple of great (and completely contrasting) versions of Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' from "Oklahoma"--it is perhaps a little surprisingly a great jazz tune: Ray Charles with the Count Basie Orchestra and Hank Jones on solo piano.

Finally, I really love this version of Joni Mitchell's A Case of You by Dianna Krall:

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Weird Story

The week before last, Nathaniel was in Rock School camp, which ended somewhat early in the afternoon. I picked him up a couple or three days that week and made an effort to get there kind of early so he wouldn't languish at the camp with nothing to do. We were driving home and I didn't want to to make something for dinner so we decided to eat out.

We went through the 'usual' list, and nothing was sounding too good, and I finally threw out C.J. Muggs in desperation. C.J. Muggs is pub-type restaurant about two minutes from my house in old Webster. To my surprise, he said that sounded pretty good. But as we drove past on the way back, it was a little too early for me (he hardly had any lunch and was ready to go then). So we compromised, since we were so close to home, that we'd come back in 45 minutes or an hour.

When we did, we couldn't turn on to Lockwood (where C.J. Muggs is located). But we were so close, I just parked and we decided to hoof it the rest of the way. We saw a police car up the way, and I wondered if someone had had a heart attack or similar misfortune. As we got closer, we could see that a car had driven up over the curb and crashed through the plate glass window at one of the local businesses. Guess which one?

Right: C.J. Muggs. It flipped us out--we could have been sitting right there. Thankfully no one apparently was seriously injured in the crash.

Friday, July 4, 2008

What's in a name?

What do people call you? I am lucky to have a lot of good ones going right now.
  • Rob
  • Robert
  • Robert (ala Francais: ro-Baire; try rolling the "r" for more fun)
  • Roberto (roll the "r" even harder)
  • Bobby Joe
  • Endicott [often slowly enunciated, with special emphasis on each syllable]
  • Dude [that's what Nathaniel calls me when he's not thinking too hard]
[Yes, Bobby Joe has made it into the list as a permissible iteration.]

I'd even take the Dallas version, how JR Ewing (Larry Hagman) referred to Patrick Duffy's character:

"mmmBobby" (You've got to say the "Bobby" part fast; try it--you can't fail to sound just like JR!)

Just never a "Bob". To paraphase Stewie on Family Guy: "So help me, don't call me 'Bob.' For every time you call me 'Bob,' I shall kill you."