I admire improvisers who can return to familiar material and approach it with freshness — in the way the great forebears did, playing the same tunes night after night.
Here are two very energizing examples of that kind of creative improvisation — performed in 2014 at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, by Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums — variations on a 1928 pop tune, Victor Young’s SWEET SUE, JUST YOU.
The first gallops, nearly violently; the second (offered in the first set of the morning) is more gentle but no less swinging. Carl said he had played SWEET SUE at every set: had there been no other bands competing for my attention, I would have liked to record and present all six or seven versions. These two will act as evidence of the beautiful living music that Carl, Marty, and Jeff offer so generously.
SWEET SUE (late in the evening of March 8, 2014):
SWEET SUE (perhaps fourteen hours later, March 9, 2014):
I remind you that the Jazz Bash by the Bay is delightfully in gear for March 2015. Here is their Facebook page, and here is their band lineup for that happy event, with the Carl Sonny Leyland trio fourth from the top. A good thing.
For those who have no intention of waiting until March, Carl and his trio will be at the San Diego Jazz Fest a week from now — details here. Hope to see you in both places.
May your happiness increase!