“Can you sing me a song?” asked Lester Young.
Ted Brown (tenor), Michael Kanan (piano), Murray Wall (bass), and Taro Okamoto (drums) proved that they knew how — masterfully. Here are three ballad performances from Ted’s appearance at the Hotel Kitano — his first New York gig as a leader in forty years, if I remember correctly — where everyone is singing.
HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN?
GONE WITH THE WIND:
and (my idea of a poignant masterpiece) a tenor-piano duet on PRISONER OF LOVE, recalling not only Russ Columbo and Perry Como but Lester Young, Teddy Wilson, Gene Ramey, and Jo Jones one peerless day in 1956:
Especially on the last performance, the deep feeling is almost too much to bear: Ted’s narrow tone, his hesitant, halting approach to the melody is the sound of a man reaching deep into his heart for his emotions. And Michael’s piano is the pure expression of knowing love: your best friend and truest comrade at the keyboard, saying, “It’s all good. Go on, tell me more!” (My sources tell me that Michael will be playing a solo gig at Smalls on March 31, and will be working with my hero Joel Press on May 13 . . . mark those calendars!)
Incidentally, the shouts of delight that seem to emanate from behind my camera are coming from another deep place: rare pianist Pete Malniverni was behind me, reveling in the beauties being created, especially by his pal Kanan.
And we can’t forget Murray Wall, eloquent melodist, and Taro Okamoto, master of listening propulsion. Thanks also go to Gino Moratti — gruff but generous — for allowing me to videorecord this session and for keeping the patrons in a properly reverent hush.
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