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Jazz Corner: Music for a Happy Soul

From Sunny Rollins’ super cool tunes to the unavoidable mastery of Miles Davis

Sunil Sampat Mar 15, 2016
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What is the past tense of “Breaking News”? It should logically be “Broken News”. It seems to me that every TV channel, newspaper and tabloid is interested only in highlighting the seamy side of life: murder, rape, depravity.. Even the old fashioned sensation, corruption is, well old fashioned ‘news’. News today is simply depressing! Bad news sells!

Fortunately, this column is meant to be a happy place! After all, music is never bad news and jazz can actually energize your spirits in the most wonderful way. We have put together a playlist that you might enjoy and is certain to drive your blues away. But first, the news.

In February, another enjoyable edition of the Mahindra Blues Festival was held in Mumbai. This annual festival has combined good music with a social ambience reminiscent of the erstwhile Jazz Yatras in Mumbai. I hope it has a long reign.

An jazz event to look forward to is a concert to be held at the NCPA on June 17th. An American band, led by Greg Banaszak on alto sax and comprising of Theron Brown on piano, Chris Anderson on trombone, vocalist Andrea Snitzer, Gianluca  Liberatore on upright double bass and Benny Soans on drums. Banaszak played a magnificent concert last year at the NCPA and Prithvi theatre of “Bird with Strings“, playing the immortal music of Charlie Parker with a string section. In the Mumbai concert, the SOI provided a great string backing for the orchestra. Theron Brown is a young pianist. In the forthcoming movie on Miles Davis, to be released this summer, Theron plays a young Herbie Hancock.This band will be worth watching and hearing. Remember, we told you first!

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Jazz can stimulate your mood for sure. Our idea of a playlist to create a happy mood.

Lambert, Hendricks & Ross: This vocal group has sung some of the most amazing Vocalese in jazz. Almost anything from their recording stable is enjoyable but if you want to pick three, our recommendation is “Cloudburst” (try keeping track with Jon Hendricks’ lightening speed of vocal delivery), “Centerpiece” and “Doodlin” (a Horace Silver masterpiece where this group has created and sung lyrics for the tune, including for the individual solos).

Blossom Dearie:  This little known jazz singer with a unique voice has sung a few surprises. We would recommend, “My New Celebrity”. Pay attention to the witty lyrics also written by Blossom.

Miles Davis: We’re sure you have all heard plenty of Miles. Two relatively obscure albums of his are worth checking out- “Miles in person at the Blackhawk”. There are two sessions, “Friday Night” and “Saturday Night”. Some of the ‘swingiest’ jazz ever is played here. Of particular interest is the super interaction between pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb.

Sonny Rollins: The album Saxophone Colossus is super cool. Listen to “Blue Seven” for some highly sophisticated jazz.

Kenny Drew: This pianist’s album Undercurrent is scrumptious. With in form Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley keeping pace with him, the title track is pulsating. Give it a listen!

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Hope you enjoyed the good news!

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