How do you honor the past? By being yourself and letting the ancestral beauties and lessons flow through you. Here are three young musicians who not only understand that deep truth but embody it: Rob Adkins, string bass; Evan Arntzen, tenor saxophone (and a surprise vocal on DREAMS); Ehud Asherie, piano. I offer you two lovely performances recorded at Casa Mezcal on February 7, 2016.
I knew this gorgeous song through Louis’ Decca recording, then through Ruby Braff and Scott Hamilton (separately) but it was a thrill to hear this trio explore it with such deep fwwling but such a light tread. And its title — and unheard lyrics — ask the eternal question:
Then, a Swing Era anthem — beloved of James P. Johnson, Lester and Billie, and many more. The sheet music below credits Benny Goodman and Irving Mills along with Edgar Sampson, but I’d give the latter full credit.
Incidentally, I’ve left the Louis version of WAS I TO BLAME? and the James P. and Billie-Lester versions to those willing to embark on a few YouTube clicks. I revere those records and have done so for decades, but comparison is — not necessarily odious — to me, disrespectful. We should honor the giants who walk and create among us, shouldn’t we? And thank them, not posthumously, but now, for their gracious, eloquent playing and singing.
May your happiness increase!