Jon-Erik Kellso already has a deep repertoire of songs, as listeners know. I was especially delighted when he decided to add Ralph Rainger’s PLEASE to his list, which he did last Sunday night (November 22, 2009) at the Ear Inn. The EarRegulars were an especially compatible quartet: Jon-Erik on trumpet, Matt Munisteri on guitar, Scott Robinson on tenor sax, and Pat O’Leary on bass.
In the darkness, occasional clamor, and pedestrian traffic of the Ear, I managed to capture the first set. I’ll save the medium and uptempo improvisations for a future post.
But I want to share two beauties with my readers. One is Jon-Erik’s tender reading of PLEASE, first muted, then open — singing pretty songs! And listen to Matt and Pat, particularly eloquent at this tempo.
Then, coincidentally, Scott had brought a lead sheet for another Rainger song associated with Bing Crosby: WITH EVERY BREATH I TAKE, which he performed in a trio setting. (Later, Scott reminded me that the version he was awed by was not Bing’s, but Ben Webster’s — on THE WARM MOODS Reprise recording, where Ben is surrounded by a small, perfectly attuned and limber string ensemble.)
It takes splendid technique and endurance to play many choruses at a fast tempo. However, it takes a rare emotional and artistic maturity to play just a chorus or two of a lovely ballad. As Lester Young is supposed to have said to Sonny Stitt, parading every lick he knew at a dazzling tempo, “That’s very nice, Lady Stitt. But can you sing me a song?”
Hats off to Jon-Erik, Scott, Matt, and Pat — players who sing!
(Jon said that he and Matt envision a Bing-inspired evening in the future, including such rarities as SUSIANNA. I’ll be there!)
Postscript: Here’s the link to an impressive video of Jon-Erik performing Henry “Red” Allen’s composition SINGING PRETTY SONGS with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz3BYzzy7HE