August 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Prez

Goodbye Porkpie Hat

"Somebody Loves Me" (1945), Lester Young (tenor) with Nat King Cole (piano) and Buddy Rich (drums)

April 7, 2012

Happy Birthday Lady Day

Bluely Noted loves a lot of singers, but Billie remains our favorite, regardless of gender or genre. 

This YouTube clip’s metadata isn’t correct — it’s not just Billie Holiday and Lester Young (though that ought to be reason enough to watch). Joining Lady Day and Prez on CBS’ Sound Of Jazz television special on December 8, 1957 were the Hawk, Little Jazz, the Brute and Jeru — Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Ben Webster and Gerry Mulligan. This was an emotional reunion for the estranged Holiday and Young on “Fine And Mellow” and would mark their final appearance together.  Both were in decline — Young so much so, he had to sit during the performance (but rose for his solo). They went their separate ways after the performance and both passed away in 1959.

"Fine And Mellow" (1957)

February 2, 2012

Bluely Noted Is All For You… Body and Soul

Dexter Gordon (1986)

Betrand Tavernier’s 1986 film 'Round Midnight, set against the Paris jazz scene of the ‘50’s, is easily one of the greatest movies about jazz. And while this version of “Body and Soul” can’t come close to matching tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon’s bravura take from 1970’s The Panther, how could it? In this film, Dexter’s Dale Turner, a fictionalized composite of Lester Young (whom Dexter idolized) and Bud Powell (who played with Dexter on his ‘63 album Our Man In Paris), is down and out. In 1970, real-life Dexter was 47 and at the top of his game, having released a series of amazing studio albums on Blue Note and live albums on SteepleChase to close out the 60’s.

Tavernier defied the studio and hired Dexter, who had never acted before and subsequently received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance (Herbie Hancock deservedly won the award for Best Score). Dexter’s/Turner’s band for this performance was a dream team: Hancock (piano), John McLaughlin (guitar), Pierre Michelot (bass — who also played on Our Man In Paris) and Billy Higgins (drums).

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