Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion/Volume Nine: What are four or five of the the most romantic tunes ever recorded?

February 4th, 2007

Reminiscing in Tempo

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Memories and Opinion

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“Reminiscing in Tempo” is part of a continuing effort to provide Jerry Jazz Musician readers with unique forms of “edu-tainment.” Every month (or as often as possible), Jerry Jazz Musician poses one question via e mail to a small number of prominent and diverse people. The question is designed to provoke a lively response that will potentially include the memories and/or opinion of those solicited.

Since it is not possible to know who will answer the question, the diversity of the participants will often depend on factors beyond the control of the publisher. The responses from the people who chose to participate in this edition are published below with only minor stylistic editing. No follow-up questions take place.

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What are four or five of the the most romantic tunes ever recorded?
Originally published February, 2007

 


 

Here’s my list, although I would be hesitant to say that they are some of “the most romantic tunes ever recorded”……………….Anyway I like the feelings they evoke…………

Naima – John Coltrane

My Man– Billie Holiday

Lonely Woman – Ornette Coleman

My Romance – as performed by Luba Rashiek on my album “Jam For Your Life”

Femme Fatale – Art Ensemble of Chicago on our album “Coming Home Jamaica “

 

 

 

 

 

 


I grew up in Detroit listening to the great singers of that time and heard many romantic songs. The one’s that I remember most fondly are as follows:

1. What A Difference A Day Makes, (by Dinah Washington)

2. Teach Me Tonight, (by Red Garland)

3. My Funny Valentine, (by Chet Baker)

4. Body And Soul, (by Coleman Hawkins)

And last but not least John Coltrane’s Naima. I actually had the great good fortune to meet her shortly after moving to NYC. She was an amazing woman, filled with loving compassion and uncommon spiritual depth.

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(Song versions chosen by the publisher)

 

 


 

 

 

Teru, by Wayne Shorter

Crepuscule With Nellie, by Thelonious Monk

Butterfly, by Herbie Hancock

You Taught My Heart to Sing, by McCoy Tyner

Just For A Thrill, by Lil Hardin Armstrong

 

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Billie Holiday —  “Violets For Your Furs,” on Lady in Satin, Columbia (1957)

– Billie Holiday’s greatest gift was taking ownership of a composition through her highly personalized interpretation. One of the final recordings in Holiday’s illustrious career, she is surrounded by the masterful J.J. Johnson as well as a lush bed of string accompaniment arranged by Ray Ellis. Though she specialized in expressing melancholy do an unparalleled level, Billie Holiday’s understanding of romance was also spectacular.

Ben Webster — “How Long Has This Been Going On?,” on Ben/Sweets, Columbia (1962)

– Rumor has it that when the great musician Benny Carter was in his last days, he exclaimed, “Bring me some Ben!”  With an airy tone, large vibrato and a masculine interpretation,  Webster’s style is unique because he combines the delicate with the rough simultaneously. Not surprisingly, Milt Hinton once told me that Webster preferred aggressive foreplay before making sweet love to a woman. This recording is the perfect example of Webster’s ballad style. He is clearly a man who understood the complexities of romance and was able to translate this understanding into beautiful music.

Charlie Parker — “April In Paris,” from Bird with Strings on Verve, (1952)

– That Charlie Parker was able to think at such an extremely high level at any tempo is one of the great marvels of improvisation-based music. An intellect of the highest order, Parker savored the opportunity to be featured with an “orchestral” accompaniment. This song is important not only for it’s romantic nature, but also because Parker was able to incorporate his unique style to a standard composition without sacrificing its beauty.

Branford Marsalis — ” The Peacocks,” from Renaissance, on Columbia, (1986)

– Though I was reticent to include an artist from the new generation, Branford Marsalis’ interpretation of this seldom played gem is the essence of romance. Accompanied by Herbie Hancock and Buster Williams, this song slowly unfolds, displaying gentle reflection and poignant contemplation. More akin to an operatic or symphonic movement than a jazz tune, Marsalis takes his time and gets the job done right!

Shirley Horn — “The Music That Makes Me Dance” from You Won’t Forget Me, on Verve (1991)

– Shirley Horn was a master of the rubato ballad. Her piano accompaniment perfectly complements her soft, delicate vocal delivery, while each solo exhibits yet another dimension of her mastery of romantic musings. While the lyrics speak of music that makes one dance, the delivery evokes feelings of passionate bedroom activity in the twilight hour first and foremost.

 

 


 

My Funny Valentine” — Miles Davis, Columbia;  also version with Horace Silver on Blue Note

Since I Fell For You,” Kenny Dorham, trumpet, with his vocal

Don’t Explain,” Billie Holiday, with Lester Young & Co. [also “Good Morning, Heartache” studio sessions]

“‘Round Midnight,” Coltrane on Prestige, extended version

Lush Life” Sarah Vaughn [Coltrane’s ” Lush Life” on Prestige, extended version]

(I could go on but I won’t…)

 

 

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In This Issue

This issue features a roundtable discussion about how the world of religion may have impacted the creative lives of Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. Also, previous winners of the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest reflect on their winning story; three new podcasts from Bob Hecht; new collection of poetry; recommendations of recently released jazz recordings, and lots more.

Short Fiction

"The Wailing Wall" -- a short story by Justin Short

Interviews

Three prominent religious scholars -- Wallace Best, Tracy Fessenden and M. Cooper Harriss -- join us in a conversation about how the world of religion during the life and times of Langston Hughes (pictured), Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison helps us better comprehend the meaning of their work.

Poetry

Nine poets contribute ten poems celebrating jazz in poems as unique as the music itself

Short Fiction

In celebration of our upcoming 50th Short Fiction Contest, previous contest winners (dating to 2002) reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

The Joys of Jazz

In this edition, award winning radio producer Bob Hecht tells three stories; 1) on Charlie Christian, the first superstar of jazz guitar; 2) the poet Langston Hughes’ love of jazz music, and 3) a profile of the song “Strange Fruit”

On the Turntable

25 recently released jazz tunes that are worth listening to…including Bobo Stenson; Medeski, Martin and Wood; Muriel Grossman and Rudy Royston

Features

Chick Corea, Rickie Lee Jones, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Randy Brecker and Tom Piazza are among those responding to our question, "What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940's?"

Poetry

"Billie Holiday" -- a poem (with collage) by Steve Dalachinsky

Coming Soon

Thomas Brothers, Duke University professor of music and author of two essential biographies of Louis Armstrong, is interviewed about his new book, HELP! The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration; also, Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell, author of An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden, in a conversation about the brilliant 20th Century artist

In the previous issue

This issue features an interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins; a collection of poetry devoted to the World War II era; and a new edition of “Reminiscing in Tempo,” in which the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940’s” is posed to Rickie Lee Jones, Chick Corea, Tom Piazza and others.

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