Rolling Stone India’s Jazz Playlist
Hear part two of our guitar masters
One of the wonderful things about making this playlist is that with the benefit of perspective, one can array music into a theme or pattern. In this playlist, the second one on guitars in this series, the attempt is made to highlight the different sounds from the varied styles of the performers as also the sounds of the different types of guitars. In the end, these are all works by masters who have brought joy to their listeners.
“Doralice” by Joao Gilberto and Caetano Veloso
The genius of jazz samba guitar, Joao Gilberto died last week at 88 in Brazil. Gilberto and Stan Getz had emerged with the brilliant album, Desafinado in 1964, an album and a sound that stretched the imagination of jazz listeners forever with the new sounds of the Bossa Nova. Gilberto was badly off in the last few years of his life, suffering both financially and physically. Caetano Veloso, who appears with Gilberto in this track took Gilberto into his home and looked after and cared for him till the end.
“Donna Lee” by Joe Pass (guitar) and Niels-Henning Orstend Pederson
In total contrast to the previous track, Joe Pass plays this classic bebop tune, written by Charlie Parker, one of the creators of this genre. Bebop, played at frenetic speeds without compromising on the aspect of melody and rhythm. This also challenged the imagination of jazz listeners, as did the Bossa Nova a few years later. Pass, a sensitive, melodic guitarist on most occasions shows he is equally adept at bebop – not an easy form of jazz to play. The Danish player, Niels Pederson, one of the finest ever jazz bass players is a wonderful foil to Pass’ inspired fireworks.
“Blues Mineur” by Stephane Wrembel
This track is from yet another genre of jazz, French Gypsy Jazz, created by the great French gypsy Django Reinhardt. Stephane Wrembel is a superb exponent of this type of jazz. He is a favorite of filmmaker Woody Allen. Wrembel and his band may be heard in the famous film, Midnight in Paris. Check out his “Bistro Fada” from that film. In “Blues Mineur,” French for Minor Blues, Wrembel exhibits his sensitive Django like approach to the gypsy jazz he plays. Incidentally, Wrembel played an evening of delightful jazz in Mumbai a couple of years ago. I was one of only 11 people in the audience!
“My Little Suede Shoes” by Grant Green
A brilliant jazz guitarist, Grant Green veered into funk and soul jazz for a while. Here he is playing yet another composition of Charlie Parker’s. This is certainly not bebop but Parker also recorded a Latin Jazz album for which “My Little Suede Shoes” was composed. This tune has since become a jazz musician’s favorite, recorded notably by Sonny Stitt, of course by Parker and a few others. Here, Green brings out the lilting melody with the rumba background. Also, try and listen to Green’s “Idle Moments” to get a different feel of this guitarist’s versatility.
“A Gal in Calico” by Herb Ellis
This is a classic. Herb Ellis is the guitarist in the Oscar Peterson Trio, one of the most sought after jazz bands ever. The fabulous Ray Brown is on bass with Peterson on piano. This group has no drummer, quite a deviation from the conventional. However, you can hear Ellis providing the beat, using his hand on the guitar frame. This group recorded several albums and played for a long time, performing concerts everywhere. Ellis is one of the great jazz guitarists ever and he also played in Mumbai in the Eighties.