Fri, 16 December 2011
The dogs woke me about 4 am, so I lay on the sofa this morning with them to calm them down. NPR was playing the overnight classical music show, which called to my attention that today is the 241st birthday of Ludwig Van Beethoven. There is no authentic record of the date of his birth; however, the registry of his baptism, in a Roman Catholic service at the Parish of St. Regius on 17 December, 1770, survives.
This is not the place for an essay on Beethoven, but let it be remembered that he was the major composer of the period that moved from the Classical and Romantic eras of western art music. A forum at All About Jazz debated whether Beethoven was an influence on jazz artists. As one commenter wrote:
Beethoven's use of Diminished harmony, key centers moving in non-circle of 4th motions, extended forms, use of soloists, used Trombones and percussion, and his use of chromatics all can be traced to influences on Jazz through association to people like Stravinsky, Wagner, Debusy who were all influenced by Beethoven
Another added that:
Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach -- in their own times -- were each more famous for their improvisation skills than for their skills in composition...I don't suppose we'll ever know what Beethoven's large-scale improvisations were really like. Composition is supposed to be like improvisation in slow motion, so I suppose we could guess. I've always imagined Beethoven's improvisations to be something like Keith Jarret's Koln Concerts... but louder. At the end of a performance by Beethoven, it was common for there to be several broken strings on the piano.
And what would Beethoven sound if arranged by jazz musicians? Click here to go to a “Beethoven Jazz Trio” by John Stebbe. Enjoy!
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14am EDT
Fri, 16 December 2011
We can't leave the funky side of Christmas without tapping into some Jimmy Smith. Whether the album is titled Christmas Cookin' or Christmas 1964, it represents the pinnacle of Hammond B-3 holiday music, and that's just fine with me. Funkmeister Creed Taylor produced the disc, which featured Smith on organ, a 13 piece brass section, Art Davis on bass, Kenny Burrell on guitar, and Grady Tate on drums. The inimitable Rudy Van Gelder was the engineer at the famous Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
"The Christmas Song", which also goes by its first line of lyrics, "Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire", was written twenty years earlier by Mel Torme and Bob Wells. The definitive version was recorded in 1961 by Nat King Cole, the fourth time he recorded the song, always with different band configurations and arrangements.
Supposedly, on a hot west coast afternoon, Torme dropped by Wells' house and recalled:
I saw a spiral pad on his piano with four lines written in pencil... They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting ... , Jack Frost nipping ... , Yuletide carols …, Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT