One of the few downsides to being a bass player is that I never get a chance to play with Hammond organ players. I love the sound of the classic organ trio, but these days people like Barbara Dennerlein are updating the format.
This is the title track from her 2000 release on Verve. In addition to a horn section, the album features Don Alias, Steve Nelson and the versatile James Genus on bass, sometimes holding it down by himself, sometimes doubling Barbara’s bassline.
On both the melody and interlude, Darren Barrett’s muted trumpet doubles the line up a major third.
I was doing some spring cleaning yesterday and found this lead sheet in a stack of old papers. I transcribed it from Elvis Costello’s 1995 album Deep Dead Blue, recorded live with Bill Frisell when Costello curated the Meltdown festival in London.
Elvis has recorded this ballad a few times (and I’m listening to Brad Mehldau’s trio version of the song while writing this), but the duo version with Frisell is my favorite.
A random connection to my last post on Kenny Wheeler’s “Heyoke”: both Brad and Keith Jarrett seem to quote “Happy Days Are Here Again” in their impressionistic solo cadenzas to the respective tunes.
For almost ten years I’ve been looking for Kenny Wheeler’s Gnu High album on vinyl. This week I found it in a used record store, in great condition at a great price! It was Kenny’s first session for ECM records, and he’s backed by the amazing trio of Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland and Jack Dejohnette. Unfortunately I’ve spent my few free hours this week learning pop songs for a wedding, so I haven’t had time to get deep into it.
Kenny’s “Heyoke” takes up all of side one and has two distinct movements. This is the form the band solos on for the first ten minutes or so:
Here’s another modern reworking of a classic, this time George Shearing’s “Conception”. I found this version on Alex Sipiagin’s album Steppin’ Zone, which came out about ten years ago on Criss Cross records. Anyone familiar with the label will recognize the backing band of Chris Potter, Dave Kikoski, and Scott Colley. The real treat here is the commanding presence of drummer Jeff Tain Watts, whose playing on Branford Marsalis’ 1990 European tour inspired young Alex to come to the US.
The band rips through the head in just 33 seconds, using the 7/4 time signature to squeeze almost all of the breathing space from the original melody. I played this version live recently, though not at this speed… it’s harder than it looks!
I could listen to this song all day. It comes from Robert Glasper’s album Mood, and it really does set a mood. The multitracked moans, hums, and buzzes of Bilal give the melody an eerie sound, as if his voice is being carried on an otherworldly wind. You can really hear the influence of Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place”, which Robert recorded in fuller form for his In My Element album.
Speaking of Kurt Rosenwinkel, here’s a Jon Cowherd tune that features him. It comes from Brian Blade’s album Perceptual. Kurt takes the first solo, followed by Daniel Lanois on pedal steel. I love the interplay of the band on this record: shifting dynamics and moods, following soloists from whispers to joyful shouts and back again.