Daily Archives: October 12, 2009

A SOARING “SKYLARK”

Hoagy Carmichael’s SKYLARK is not the usual ballad — it has Beiderbeckian twists and turns; its harmonic structure is far from the usual sequence.  But Duke Heitger, Dan Block, Bob Havens, Ehud Asherie, Jon Burr, and Arnie Kinsella gave it a wonderful reading at the 2009 Jazz at Chautauqua.  You’ll notice that Ehud gets everyone in the right pensive mood with a sideways glance at IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW in his introduction.  And the first chorus is a small miracle of melodic embellishment, as the three horns and Ehud each respectfully put their own shine on the melody, Jon and Arnie quietly keeping the beat behind them.  Heroic Dan Block (bold explorer!) creates an entirely new melody — in the fashion of mid-period Lester or the Bird of EMBRACEABLE YOU — that both soars above the original and keeps reminding us of its beauties.  Duke, not to be outdone, creates a small masterpiece that alternates between heart-on-sleeve straightforward statements and decorative flourishes, with never a sixteenth note out of place.  After Bob’s eloquently singing solo (shades of Jack Teagarden, of course), the horns join chorally behind Duke — as he sings it out, to the skies, in the manner of Fifties Ruby Braff or Thirties Louis.  We need more beauty like this in our lives, and not just at jazz parties.

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