Tag Archives: jazz legends

MASTERS OF MELODY: MUNDELL LOWE, BUCKY PIZZARELLI, DAVE STONE, ED METZ at the SAN DIEGO JAZZ PARTY (February 23, 2014)

My visit to the San Diego Jazz Party (February 21-23 of this year) was a real pleasure: good music proliferated in comfortable surroundings among very nice people.

But a special delight was seeing guitarist Mundell Lowe in action: melodic, gentle, compelling without raising his volume or playing one superfluous note.

And his graceful playing belies his birthdate: April 21, 1922, which means he was two months shy of 92 when these videos were done.  Ponder that.  Music keeps him young. And listening to Mundell will surely have the same salutary effect on us.

After these performances, Party founder Dave Cooper presented Mundell with the SDJP Jazz Legend award; it seemed to all of us that Mundell had generously awarded all of us the gift of unforgettable yet unpretentious music.

In this he had some masterful assistance and comradeship: Bucky Pizzarelli, Dave Stone, and Ed Metz — superb embodiments of swinging melodic improvisation.

WHAT AM I HERE FOR?:

A NIGHTINGALE SANG IN BERKELEY SQUARE:

PUT YOUR DREAMS AWAY:

I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME:

LESTER LEAPS IN:

Please notice: the love of melody, of sweet sound, of floating medium tempo, of taking-your-time ballad playing.  These players know how to tell unforgettable stories in one solo chorus.  Masterful and memorable.

The 2015 Party will take place at the Hilton San Diego / Del Mar in Del Mar, California, on the weekend of February 20-22, 2015.  Details here.

May your happiness increase!

DELICATE FORCE: HANK JONES (1918-2010)

Hank Jones, 2005

It’s unrealistic, but I thought that Hank Jones would be around forever: so I was unreasonably shocked to hear of his death at age 91.  The obituaries speak of the musicians he played with so gloriously — from brothers Elvin and Thad to Charlie Rouse and Joe Lovano . . . to Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Hot Lips Page, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Joe Wilder, and Ruby Braff.  He had fine taste: the “New York Rhythm Section” that flourished in the Fifties included Hank, Milt Hinton, Barry Galbraith, and Osie Johnson. 

Modestly, he didn’t want the spotlight for himself (although he recorded prolifically as a leader for forty years and more); nor did he say that his sound on the piano, his touch, was exceptional.  But anyone hearing even four bars of his playing could identify Hank — he had a singular way of hitting notes on the piano, of phrasing a line of notes, of voicing a chord . . . so that it could be no one else.  I don’t know enough about piano technique to say whether it was a matter of touch, of pedaling — but he could make the simplest (even the most cliched) phrase sound pearly.  Next to him, many other pianists (with monumental reputations) sound over-elaborate or uncouth.  (The player closest to Hank in this was Ellis Larkins.)  Hank’s phrases seem to float above the piano, transcending the mechanics of hands pressing down wood, the wood hitting strings, and so on.  And he had a particularly steady rhythmic sense: his beat was also unmistakable, apparently decorous.  But the elegant surface veneer of his playing, its sheen and gloss, could not mask his swinging force beneath.  Like Bobby Hackett, he was never loud.  He didn’t have to be.   

And he’s gone.  But we had sixty-five years to hear him: what a generous life!

“The Official Hank Jones Website” can be found here: http://www.officialhankjones.com/.  It’s rather outdated, but it will do to remind us of the glorious playing of Hank Jones.