Download Full Text (647 KB)
Year of Release
Jeff Wolfe, trumpe, EWI
Raice Stevens, tenor saxophone
Nick Vassar, guitar
Craig Burletic, bass
Rodney Elkins, drums
Polka Dots and Moonbeams (1940) -Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke
Known mostly for their screen writing and collaboration with Bing Crosby, Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke became so successful that they were known as "The Gold Dust Twins." Though their expertise was in film score, Polka Dots and Moonbeams had no screen affiliation. It was originally written for the Tommy Dorsey Big Band with vocalist Frank Sinatra. In fact, this was Sinatra's first "big hit." The tune quickly became a jazz standard and is now one of the top-100 most recorded jazz standards.
Polka Dots and Moonbeams is in F major and the form is A-A'-B-A'. The B section, or bridge, has a "false" key change to A major. It is certainly not one of Van Heusen's more sophisticated pieces, in that the harmonic structure in the A and B sections is based on the I-iv-ii7-V7-I progression.
To avoid stagnancy, I have arranged a re-harmonized version of the tune. Re-harmonization is simply a revision of the original harmonic structure while maintaining the melodic integrity. It will also be performed in a solo piano style this evening.
Bud Powell (1996) Chick Corea
From an early age Chick Corea was influenced by the music of his time, especially that of jazz pianist Bud Powell. Corea has made great strides in not only the jazz idiom, but he is also highly proficient in the classical realm. He studied piano at Juilliard and spent his nights in New York sitting in on jam sessions.
Bud Powell first appeared on the album Remembering Bud Powell in 1997. The form is A-A-B-A. It is a swing style tune with an eight bar latin interlude to set up the second half of tl1e bridge. The melody is characteristic of the bebop style and the harmony is more progressive. Bud Powell is a combination of the two pianists' styles and pays tribute to the great Bud Powell.
Sophisticated Lady (1933)- Duke Ellington
The composer credits released with Sophisticated Lady originally read Ellington, Hardwick, Brown, and Mills. By accepting a flat fee with no anticipation that this song would become a hit, Toby Hardwick and Lawrence Brown gave up the rights to Irving Mills for lyrics and Duke Ellington for music.
The tune became one of Ellington's most popular and lucrative composition. In fact, twenty-eight years later in 1961, he received $79,000 in royalties mostly attributed to Sophisticated Lady.
The tune begins with a ii7-V7 pattern, but quickly jumps a minor sixth from Bb-7 to Gb7. This is a difficult transition, especially for a vocalist. It maintains the typically A-A-B-A form and modulates, or changes keys, from Ab to G after the second A and B sections. It is typically played as a ballad, but this evening we will perform in a double-time feel. Four beats is still four beats, but the drummer plays a rhythm that gives the effect of doubling time.
Strollin' (1960) - Horace Silver
Perhaps one of the more underrated jazz pianists and composers, Horace Silver showcased his compositional abilities with this song. Strollin' begins with a pickup note in the bass and dives directly into what some may say is an unforgettable melody. Silver lets his gospel influence shine in this tune. In gospel harmony, many of the chords are stacked in thirds and fifths and Strollin' is no exception.
One can imagine the act of "strollin"' or a lax approach to walking. When you hear it, it will become apparent that the melody and medium swing style Stollin' emulates the very act. The form is A-A' with a slight variation on the harmony and melody the second A.
Body and Soul (1930)-Johnny Green
Written by Johnny Green for vocalist Gertrude Lawrence, Body and Soul was a number one hit for six weeks in 1933. Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra popularized it, which is when it hit the number one spot. Amongst the many recordings of the tune, the most prominent to jazz musicians is that of Coleman Hawkins' 1939 performance.
Considered the first great jazz tenor saxophonist, Hawkins often sought out tunes that had rapidly changing chords or difficult chord progressions. Body and Soul offers both. With the form being A-A-B-A, there is a key change from what is a minor tonality of Db in the A sections to a major tonality of D during the B section. The chords change with either every beat or every other beat. This tune is mostly performed as a ballad and will remain as such this evening.
Billie's Bounce (1945) - Charlie "Bird" Parker
Contrary to what most may believe is a tune titled after Billie Holiday, Billie's Bounce is named after the secretary of Dizzy Gillespie's agent Billy Shaw. Charlie Parker was very familiar with early blues singers and horn players. The melodic-ism of the tune demonstrates this familiarity. It was so well liked and played that it entered the jazz repertoire almost immediately.
It is a 12-bar blues form with a bebop melody and highly arpeggiated passages. There are slightly different chords in the last six measures to allow for variation when improvising. The staple recording to this day is still the one of Charlie Parker on the 1945 album The Charlie Parker Story and is one of the definitive recordings of the bebop era.
On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever) (1965) - Burton Lane
This tune was one of Burton Lane's most famous. He mainly wrote for film, but On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever) was written for the title show On A Clear Day, which won a Grammy the year of its release.
The main character Daisy Gamble has ESP, or extrasensory perception which allows her to predict the future and move things with her mind. She is supposedly in love, but what threatens her new-found infatuation is her smoking habit. To be free of this, she is hypnotized and reveals a past life in the 1800s as Melinda. The psychiatrist encourages her to use the ESP to her advantage and determines that she is a reincarnation of Melinda. During their sessions, Mark (the doctor) falls in love with Melinda. Absolutely revolted, Daisy plans to catch a plane and her ESP warns her of an impending crash. The now enlightened Daisy returns to Mark to plan their future as Mark and Melinda.
There is no definite form. Rather, it is through composed. The arrangement used this evening begins with a re-harmonization in a different meter on solo piano. The melody is played once by piano and then joined by bass and drums for improvisation. The tune ends with rubato (slow and expressive) piano.
Honeysuckle Rose (1929) -Thomas "Fats" Waller
Fats Waller and Andy Razaf left Honeysuckle Rose in the wake of their longtime collaboration. Honeysuckle Rose and Ain't Misbehavin are two songs that have endured the test of time by remaining very popular jazz standards. The tune was originally a part of the musical revue Load of Coal. After being debuted on the air, it became instantly popular among musicians.
The form is A-A-B-A and the tune is in F major. It has a lively melody that requires quite an agile hand and technical ability to play. It is played in the stride solo piano style. A parallel can be drawn between stride piano and the time period the tune was written due to its popularity at the time. Honeysuckle Rose was a tune that any jazz musician was to know in order to be well informed. It has remained a favorite among jazz connoisseurs and has been recorded by a variety of artists like Ron Carter and Thelonious Monk.
Goin' Home (1983) -Russ Ferrante
Russ Ferrante was one of the founding members of the jazz fusion group The Yellowjackets. At age 9 he began playing piano and was heavily influenced by his father who was the church choir director. Throughout his musical career, he has succeeded as a freelance writer, arranger, and instrumentalist. He's worked in many sessions with such notables as Bobby McFerrin and AI Jarreau.
Released under the Warner Brothers label in 1983, Mirage a Trois was a concert favorite. The characteristics of high energy and interactive solos make for a crowd-pleasing experience, and the chords are reminiscent of a gospel song and sort of give the "down home" effect. Goin' Home, as the title suggests, reflects Ferrante's roots in music and close ties to his gospel upbringing.
The form is A-A'-B-A-A'-A" with an overall similar chord structure throughout. All the instruments are electronic with the exception of the drums. The use of these instruments allows for pitch bending and vocal inflections. An EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) is used to play the melody. This is an instrument that functions as a synthesizer for wind players. It is certainly a collaborative effort.
Jomie Jazz Center Forum
Arts and Humanities | Fine Arts | Music | Music Performance
Arbogast, Zachary, "Marshall University Music Department Presents Zachary Arbogast, Piano" (2014). All Performances. 320.