In the hot music I and many people gravitate to, there is a certain disdain for music written — tabulated as little signs — on lined pieces of paper.  Real (wo)men don’t read charts.  “Can you read?” goes the joke, “Yeah, but not enough to mess up my playing.”  In the memories of some fans, Pure Jazz is a group of people somewhere jamming on a familiar tune — anything more complicated than that seems an impudent intrusion.

Today’s homework — I am a college professor by profession, and the semester has begun, so put those smartphones away immediately, please — is to watch this glorious video twice, each time concentrating on a different aspect of its splendor.  Once, as I think is usual, bask in the solos.  Then, note how beautifully those solos are framed, encouraged, and sent off into improvisatory paradise by the arrangement.  The arrangement, by the way, is by JAZZ LIVES’ hero, Jim Dapogny, who also doth bestride the mighty piano like a colossus.

The tune is CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME (a relic of those days when the Westward migration made people think not only of gold but of oranges) and the band is Jim, piano [spectacularly], arrangements; Dan Block, Scott Robinson, Andy Schumm, Dan Barrett, Marty Grosz, Frank Tate, John Von Ohlen.  I recorded this on September 17, 2014, at the first Allegheny Jazz Party in Cleveland, Ohio (more about that below):

I know that these gifted people could have created something delightful on this tune without straining a muscle.  But when you listen closely, the balance (or the necessary alternation) of written passage and arranged passage is what makes this performance even better, more memorable.  So those who groan silently when they see a band spread out manuscript paper on their stands might want to re-evaluate this ancient prejudice.  We all need road maps, and framing the picture sensitively only enhances it.  (And we need to mix metaphors in a sentence: it’s good for the muscles.)

On to a related subject.  I have just returned from the 2015 Allegheny Jazz Party, both tired and elated.  All I will say is that my face now has new lines in it, but they are from smiling.  With all respects to every other jazz-party organizer, I think  it is the best-run and the kindest party of them all.  And the music soars. I will have more to say and to show about this in future.  Right now I am simply grateful that the AJP exists, and exists so beautifully.

May your happiness increase! 


One response to ““WAS THAT THE LONE ARRANGER?” or ALLEGHENY JOYS (2014 and 2015)

  1. Michael P. Zirpolo

    Michael, you undoubtedly are expressing something that lodged in your subconscious somewhere along the way. “The Lone Arranger,” was written in 1940 by Wen D’Aury, a shadowy figure from the swing era, who wrote a few stirring jazz instrumentals in 1939-1940. “The Lone Arranger” was most notably recorded by Cab Calloway and his band on May 15, 1940, using an arrangement written by Benny Carter. At that time, the Calloway band was solid, including such notables as lead trumpeter Mario Bauza, lead alto saxophonist Hilton Jefferson, bassist Milt Hinton, drummer Cozy Cole, and jazz soloists Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet and Chu Berry on tenor sax. Cab and crew made two takes of “The Lone Arranger” on that date, which was produced for Okay/Columbia by John Hammond. For some reason, King John, who was a man of strong opinions, wrote on the Columbia ledger: “I do not recommend this record.” I do recommend it for excellent playing by all involved, especially take two.

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