Tag Archives: jazz

Desert Island thoughts

I occasionally listen to episodes of Desert Island Discs from the extensive archive (available as a podcast). It’s fascinating to hear the people who were at the forefront of culture when I was growing up. At the stage of life I’m at it’s bewildering to try and engage with actual contemporary culture, so the relatively calmer pace of things portrayed through the amiable chats on Desert Island Discs is appealing.

This morning I listened to interviews with Tom Lehrer and Ronnie Scott. Both of them, when pressed to select just one of their eight chosen discs, chose classical music. Lehrer took a duet from Richard Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and Scott took the opening of Maurice Ravel’s ‘Daphnis et Chloe’. Isn’t that interesting?

Another thing that Ronnie Scott said was in explaining that he hadn’t included any of the big names of saxophone — Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins — as he could hear a lot of their influence in the sax players of the time. As an example he includes a recording by Charles McPherson. He does select John Coltrane’s beautiful rendition of ‘In A Sentimental Mood’, accompanied by Duke Ellington on piano. (It’s a great arrangement…I must transcribe the piano part.)

Tonight I’m off into town to listen to my friend Jennifer McMahon singing with a trio, which should be really good!

if i’m wrong i’m right where i belong

I’ve been teaching about diminished chords in the last couple of weeks – they appear in a Grade 1 RIAM piece called ‘Lame Duck’ and also in the third section of Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise’. Here’s a quote from Barry Harris:

People react to a lot of things. What I’ve found they really react to is diminished notes. See, ’cause, if you play diminished notes with something, it’ll sound like it’s wrong. And people…the ears of people react to wrong. The audience reacts to wrong. And what you have to do, you have to throw that little ‘wrong’ in, then you make it right, that messes them up. But you got their attention; it’s real weird, too, it’s really true. They’re real funny about that. People can react to a wrong note, “now I say, do you hear that, he’s playing a wrong chord in that song”. But you make it right then they don’t know what to think. So you have to fool people and people will gasp.

from a Frans Elsen film of a Barry Harris workshop at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague

Title from the beautiful Beatles song, ‘Fixing A Hole’. Paul’s adlib vocal line over the last chorus hits all kinds of jazzy notes, there’s a harpsichord, George’s guitar parts are tasty tasty, and it has the breezy mood that’s so wonderfully prevalent in a lot of Paul’s songwriting.

Advent calendar: 3

Juuuust sneaking in ahead of the deadline for this one today! I’m deviating from the Christmas theme a bit in honour of the fact that today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of ‘Rubber Soul’ by The Beatles. Their sixth album, and probably my favourite of theirs.

Workers at EMI factory in Hayes, Middlesex, packaging Rubber Soul, 1965

I recorded this on my Yamaha Clavinova and used an app called Drumgenius for the drums. Check it out, musicians, if you’d like to replace your metronome with more interesting beats. There are over 400 loops on it now. You get three free when you download the app and then you can buy bundles (10 for €0.99, 50 for €2.99).

The arrangement is from a book called ‘The Beatles for jazz piano’: eleven classic Beatles songs arranged in jazz style by Steve Hill.

Please like and share 🙂

Winter Wonderland piano arrangement

Happy Christmas! This is a jazzy arrangement of ‘Winter Wonderland’ that I did last year for one of my piano students, Chloe, just as I was finishing up my teaching and preparing to embark on this year’s Post Tropical adventure. I’ve made it downloadable, so feel free to add it to your seasonal playlists…!

I’ve also revamped my website, so this is also an announcement of that. Feel free to ‘share’ and ‘bookmark’ and ‘like’ and ‘follow’ in the spirit of holiday cheer!!!

Much exclamation 🙂