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Skylark is a great ballad: my favorite recorded version is Mulgrew Miller on "Live at Kennedy Center" Lush Life is a great ballad. My favorite recording is Natalie Cole's (from "Unforgettable") Lazy Afternoon is another great tune with the same melancholy vibe. My two favorite versions are Hank Jones' (piano) from his album of the same name, and Barbara Streisand's version from her famous live album from about 10 years ago. Misty. Of course. Still and always. Stranger in Paradise. Originally a tune by a Russian classical composer, my favorite jazz recordings are: (a) JVC World Class Music sampler CD (I can't remember the group) and (b) Seamus Blake from "Live at Smalls"
Cassiesmom: want to learn to improvise? It's really pretty easy if you have the right instruction. Get yourself any of the following books:
* Play Piano by Ear. Simon Schott * Exploring Jazz Piano. Tim Richards * Understanding and Implementing Harmony on the Piano. (yours truly)
One more I should have included in the above list:
The song Voce e Linda, written by Caetano Veloso and performed by Simone on her album "Vicio." Beautifully done as a duet between Simone and Nascimiento, beautifully arranged by Jeremy Lubbock (of Michael Jackson fame) and well worth the purchase whether you understand Portuguese or not.
On Skylark: Just had the privilege of hearing The Tierney Sutton Band. She introduced Skylark by saying a poet friend said Mercer's words were very like like certain eastern religious imagery in which a bird is a metaphor of the diety. The song, therefore, is not about a person, but about searching for a diety. Her version was, therefore, very contemplative.
The piano player in her band, Christian Jacob, is very much work getting to know.
The ballad I find most fun to play, and maybe the most harmonically complex standard ever written, is "All The Things You Are". Kern wrote it to be done in a lilting, flowing two-beat (which is what passed for show ballad in the 1930's). It's been done at many tempos but IMO most effectively as a ballad -- check out Sinatra on YouTube.
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
In 1956 I was lucky (as a sprog) to pay 2/6d at the Palladium London to hear Hoagy do his thing as the main feature after the interval ...
A really thin chap (smoking) came onto the stage to introduce himself ... and said that he “and the boys” (drum and double bass) were going to knock a few things around ... and if we’d like to stay on, we were welcome.
Of course, nobody left ... imagine me, wet-behind-the-ears, listening to a flush of masterpieces right off the cuff ... and have been addicted ever since.
The Nearness of You Little Red Monkey Skylark Georgia on my Mind (Olympics anthem) Up a Lazy River River-boat Shuffle In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening My Resistance is Low Lazy bones Little Old Lady (charming) In the Still of the Night Two Sleepy People Old Music Master Ole Buttermilk Sky Stardust (composed 1927/lyrics 1929 by Mitchell Parish)
On his 80th birthday, Carmichael was reflective, observing,
"I'm a bit disappointed in myself. I know I could have accomplished a heck of a lot more... I could write anything any time I wanted to. But I let other things get in the way... I've been floating around in the breeze."