Jule Styne’s “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” The Keith Jarrett Trio

Today marks the 116th anniversary of the birth of the great American songwriter, Jule Styne (1905-1994). Born in London, Styne grew up in Chicago, the son of Jewish Ukrainian immigrants. He was a child prodigy pianist, performing with the orchestras of Chicago and Detroit before age ten. Later, he played jazz, withdrawing from the concert stage because of the limitations of his small hands. He created the scores for some of the Broadway theater’s …

Read more

Art Tatum: “Have You Met Miss Jones?”

As the story goes, Vladimir Horowitz was once asked to name the greatest living pianist. “Art Tatum,” replied the Russian-American virtuoso without hesitation, adding, “If Art Tatum took up classical music seriously, I’d quit my job the next day.” The sentiment was echoed by Arthur Rubinstein, Arturo Toscanini, Sergei Rachmaninov, and others who flocked to Harlem clubs throughout the 1940s to experience Tatum’s unique artistry. According to one account, Horowitz worked on an …

Read more

“Blues Walk”: From Lou Donaldson to Lincoln Center

Blues Walk is the title track from a celebrated 1958 album by jazz alto saxophonist, Lou Donaldson. Known for a “soulful, bluesy approach,” Donaldson’s style of playing was heavily influenced by the bebop of Charlie Parker. The addition of conga drums, performed on the Blues Walk album by Ray Barretto, gave Lou Donaldson’s band a distinct sound. Later albums used an electric organ as a substitute for the piano. Here is a performance of Blues Walk featuring Wynton …

Read more

Chick Corea’s “Children’s Songs”: Simplicity as Beauty

The late jazz pianist Chick Corea began writing the solo piano collection, Children’s Songs, in 1971. The set of twenty short songs follows the model of Bartók’s Mikrokosmos. In the preface, Corea wrote that the music was intended “to convey simplicity as beauty, as represented in the Spirit of a child.”  Each of the twenty songs opens up a magical new vignette, each with its distinct atmosphere. At the same time, a sense of motivic …

Read more

Remembering Chick Corea

Chick Corea, the American jazz composer, keyboardist, bandleader and occasional percussionist, passed away on Tuesday following a brief battle with a rare form of cancer. He was 79. In the 1960s, Corea was a member of Miles Davis’ band. Following a brief collaboration with the avant-garde jazz ensemble, Circle, Corea founded the band Return to Forever in 1971. The group went on to pioneer the jazz fusion movement in the 1970s, opening the door to …

Read more

Keith Jarrett: “My Song,” 1978

Keith Jarrett’s My Song is infused with a sublime simplicity and directness. It first appeared as the title track on a 1978 studio album featuring Jarrett with his “European Quartet.” (The collaboration involved the Scandinavian jazz musicians, Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen). Over the years, My Song returned in Jarrett’s improvisatory solo piano concerts. It has become a standard with other jazz artists such as guitarist Pat Metheny. Here is a performance from Keith Jarrett’s December 12, …

Read more

Dave Brubeck at 100

Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the American jazz pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck (1920-2012). Born in Concord, California, Brubeck grew up on his father’s cattle ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. He served in Patton’s Army during the Second World War, forming and leading one of the armed forces’ first racially integrated bands. Following the war, Brubeck studied composition at Mills College with the French composer, Darius …

Read more

Send this to a friend