Tag Archives: Victor Schertzinger

LOVE LETTERS: MARIANNE SOLIVAN and MICHAEL KANAN at THE DRAWING ROOM (March 24, 2012)

The love letter (not an emoticon or a tweet) can carry many messages.

I adore you.  I wish you were mine.  Thank you, my dear one.  Come run away with me, my Prize!  Why don’t you write to me?  What happened?  I have found another.  Why did you break my heart?  Will you come back to me?  Remember our moments together?  I miss you so.

Singer Marianne Solivan and pianist Michael Kanan know all about love — in human form and in the song.  They’re not a couple, but it’s clear from the way they play that they have depths of emotion to share with us.  The results are subtle and memorable.  Marianne and Michael know music’s power to move us to tears and to make us feel lighter-than-air, as well as its tragicomic bitter-sweetness: when we hear a sad song and think, “Oh, that is so beautiful!” while we are feeling the sadness.

They are poets, improvising their poems as they go.  They ask deep questions of us through music, and the answers they offer aren’t easy or monochromatic — each time we listen, the answers shift slightly in the light.  They move through each song experimentally, considering it a new experience, testing its limits, sounding its depths.

Their art, at once strong and delicate, asks only that we give ourselves to it wholly — no multitasking, please.  In admiration, I will stand out of its way, for it would be wrong to offer commentaries.

What follows is my video-recording of a spiritually intense evening at Michael’s Brooklyn studio, The Drawing Room (70 Willoughby Street).  It was a privilege to be there and an honor to be allowed to share it with you.

Jerome Kern’s mournful IN LOVE IN VAIN, with a surprise concealed inside:

A joyous, sideways look at the Rodgers and Hart THERE’S A SMALL HOTEL: where is this hotel?  We want to book rooms there, too:

I COVER THE WATERFRONT (with the lovely dark verse):

The wistful I CAN DREAM, CAN’T I?:

LET’S GET LOST:

I DON’T WANT TO CRY ANYMORE:

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT:

HAUNTED HEART (interpolating LOVE LETTERS):

Berlin’s magically buoyant ISN’T THIS A LOVELY DAY?

MORE THAN YOU KNOW:

BILLY STRAYHORN Medley (STAR-CROSSED LOVERS / A FLOWER IS A LOVESOME THING / PASSION FLOWER):

Theme music for timid arsonists: I DON’T WANT TO SET THE WORLD ON FIRE:

The wrenching I GUESS I’LL HANG MY TEARS OUT TO DRY:

Grammarians point out that I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU should correctly be I HAVE EYES ONLY FOR YOU, but grammarians don’t usually write memorable songs.  I always think of this song in connection with Lester Young, who said of something he approved of that he had “big eyes for that”:

Berlin’s series of devoted questions to be addressed to the Beloved, HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN:

Michael and Marianne are both marvelously capable of emotional and artistic magic on their own.  I have been publicizing the very moving events at The Drawing Room, and you can also visit Marianne’s website here.  When you visit her site, you will hear the strains of Marianne and Michael exploring I WISH I KNEW — from Marianne’s new CD, PRISONER OF LOVE.

They will be appearing on April 19, 2012, at Smalls (183 West 10th Street, Greenwich Village, New York) from 10 PM to 12:30 AM, with bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Jerome Jennings.

For the love of music: love letters from Marianne and Michael, straight from their hearts.

May your happiness increase.

SOLID SENDER: JAMES DAPOGNY at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA (Sept. 16, 2011)

Sixty years ago, I would have called Jim Dapogny (that’s Professor Emeritus James to some of you) a solid sender — someone we could count on to “send” us, to inspire us as soon as he began to play the piano.  The term now has the odd mustiness of archaic slang, but the praise still applies.  Whether he’s taking his time with a rhythm ballad, rocking the blues, or developing a swing cathedral-in-the-air (consider the three variations on LIZA here), he is a full-scale orchestral pianist, creating fascinating textures as he goes and always keeping the rhythm moving — a genuine treasure.

Here’s his informal concert from Sept. 16, 2011, at Jazz at Chautauqua:

I didn’t recognize his opening song, which didn’t surprise me — Jim has often found and shared obscure compositions with us (last year it was Victor Schertzinger’s MY START) but this one has a wonderful Thirties flavor.  Since I had never seen the Diana Ross “biography” of Billie Holiday, I had missed out on HAD YOU BEEN AROUND — with its oddly formal title — but I loved this Dapogny evocation.  Now I don’t have to see the film, ever:

Jim says that he is strongly influenced by Jess Stacy and Joe Sullivan (as well as a long list of pianists famous and obscure — including Hines, Morton, their colleagues and descendents) — here’s his homage to Mister Stacy, REMEMBERING JESS STACY:

Professor Dapogny’s casual erudition is always at the service of the music (I’m sorry I never got to sit in on one of his classes) — here he comments on W.C. Handy’s ATLANTA BLUES, borrowed in large part from MAKE ME A PALLET ON THE FLOOR:

Scrapper Blackwell’s melancholy I’M GOING HOME (or is it I’M GOIN’ HOME?):

And two American classics — BODY AND SOUL, played as if generations of jazz players had not yet walked through or over it:

To conclude, a taking-his-ease version of LIZA that works up a lovely head of steam:

All hail James Dapogny, poet and expert barrelhouse pianist!

STANDARD TIME: NEAL MINER AND FRIENDS

Neal Miner is not only a fine bassist and composer; he’s also a remarkable jazz videographer who gets splendid results without a truckload of equipment.  His YouTube channel is “gutstringrecords,” and I’ve taken two of his recent videos to share (and applaud) here.

The first is a nimble, sustained reading of the Schertzinger-Mercer I REMEMBER YOU for piano trio: Neal, Michael Kanan on piano, Rick Montalbano on drums:

Aside from the music itself, which is probing without losing the essential rhapsodic quality of the song, I would point out how neatly Neal has solved the problem of making a jazz video visually interesting without having fidgety cutting every few seconds. 

And here’s CLOSE YOUR EYES by Bernice Petkere, explored by the Pacific Jazz Quartet — Sasha Dobson on the evocative vocal, Neal, Rob Sudduth on tenor saxophone, and Dred Scott on drums:

Satisfying and intriguing — hats off to Neal and friends!