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Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
#2809571 02/01/19 05:10 PM
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What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? Michel Legrand, arr George Shearing

Well, I guess I'll open the Piano Bar for Feb 2019. The great French composer and Jazz pianist Michel Legrand died this past week, at age 86 -- in his honor, I have two submissions for this month. The first of these is "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life", which was a candidate for best Oscar song in 1969, although it lost out to "Raindrops Are Falling on My Head" that year. This arrangement is by the equally prominent English Jazz pianist George Shearing. The 60s and 70s were the time Legrand was best known, which is interesting because his soft Jazz-based style was pretty much going out of style in that era. But he had a great sense for the sensitive ballad, and provided a number of relatively popular "hits", particularly with movie themes.

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Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2809575 02/01/19 05:33 PM
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You Must Believe in Spring -- Michel Legrand, arr Bill Evans

My second submission is the beautiful Jazz standard "You Must Believe in Spring", the lyric provided in 1972 by the superb duo of Alan and Marilyn Bergman. It is interesting to me that Legrand originally conceived the music as far more upbeat, as part of his score for "The Girls of Rochefort", a mid 60s sequel to his surprise hit movie-musical "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg". In the late 70s, Bill Evans made this one of his signature pieces with his trio, and also collaborated with Tony Bennett in a vocal version. The lyric I find so beautiful that I thought I'd post it in its entirety:

1 When lonely feelings chill
The meadows of your mind
Just think if winter comes
Can spring be far behind?
Beneath the deepest snows
The secret of a rose
Is merely that it knows
You must believe in spring

2 Just as a tree is sure
Its leaves will reappear
It knows its emptiness
Is just the time of year
The frozen mountain dreams
Of April's melting streams
How crystal clear it seems!
You must believe in spring

3 You must believe in love
And trust it's on its way
Just as the sleeping rose
Awaits the kiss of May
So in a world of snow
Of things that come and go
Where what you think you know
You can't be certain of


You must believe in spring -- and love


Evans first provides all three "verses" in this transcription, then goes through three Jazz iterations before returning to the theme.

Enjoy!

Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2809675 02/01/19 10:53 PM
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Tim, two wonderful choices!

I love the Shearing arrangement of "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?", especially the part in the A section with descending quarter note chords (cleverly split between hands), which then repeat. Also love those interior lines. And the ending.

I'll have something new for this month, but for the moment, here is my arrangement of the same song from a recital a few years ago.

What are you doing the rest of your life

All I can say about your work on Bill Evans' version of "You Must Believe in Spring" is this - gee, wish I could play that! Beautiful!

Ed


http://edsjazzpianopage.blogspot.com/

My fingers are slow, but easily keep pace with my thoughts.

Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2809730 02/02/19 06:39 AM
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Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2809733 02/02/19 06:53 AM
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Tim Adrianson - Nice tribute to Michel Legrand, his music was everywhere in the 70s and early 80s. He had a quartet with Phil Woods in the 70s/80s and they seemed to mostly play his music and despite alot of it being unashamedly romantic, it worked well in the jazz context. My favourite version of 'What are you doing...' is the Stan Kenton version with the soaring brass at the end, bombastic yes, subtle no, fantastic yes :-).

Of course that is completely different from the shearing version here which you play beautifully. I must say I don't really care for his reharminsation of the A section but that's just me. Beautifully and tenderly played.

Always enjoy your Bill Evans transcription interpretations, really shows off your touch and control not to mention your understanding of the music. Great stuff.

Riddler (Ed) - I remember this from the recital. A completely different interpretation from Shearing and in your own style, great intro and the (Ed) arpeggios all fit nicely. One of your best I think.

Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2809734 02/02/19 07:03 AM
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I have a couple of things on the go but I haven't got to record them yet, been out and about in the mountains :-)

So here are a couple from the archive. The first one 'Yes I Do', was written about 30 years ago (!) and there could well be some Michel Legrand influence in there as I used to listen to him quiet a lot back then. The second , 'Starting Out' , was probably written about the same time but was really only half an idea and so was finished off in more recent times. Starting out has some bass and drum backing half way through generated by the iReal app.

Yes I Do

Starting Out

Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2810069 02/03/19 12:11 AM
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Michael, loved your take on Laura. Kinda dreamy in places. Cool ending.

Russ, if you hadn't mentioned it, I would not have noticed it, but your songs do remind me a bit of Michel Legrand's music. And that's a good thing! Beautiful songs, and very swinging improv! I forget what they call it, but you got a nice effect in places with the technique of playing a LH chord on each RH melody note. Great listening!

Ed


http://edsjazzpianopage.blogspot.com/

My fingers are slow, but easily keep pace with my thoughts.

Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2810122 02/03/19 05:54 AM
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IosPlayer - I missed your post, I think you posted whilst I was writing mine.

Another unique take on a classic standard. That single line at the beginning really draws you in, is this really Laura ? Then a rising line into the chords and the strings come in, that is just gorgeous Mike. Then we go from Paul Bley to George Gershwin, what a great concept and a totaly unique approach to Laura, great.

Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2810262 02/03/19 04:09 PM
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Thanks Tim, for bringing LeGrand back to my mind. He really was evocative of a certain romantic heartbeat and time. I preferred the Evans voicing to the Shearing, but just my taste. Well played. A Le Grand offering.

Ed, your file was removed? Maybe by the Turkish authorities!

Jazztpt. Welcome sounds as always. Loved the complexity of Starting Out. And the hiss... so nostalgic! Almost as cool as Tim's haunting footsteps!


Jazz at www.newartistsrecords.com. Search Michael Levy. Use Safari for free tracks.
https://soundcloud.com/michael-levy-387395070 for jazz, classical, world, rock tracks
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Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2810433 02/04/19 05:42 AM
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Tim and Ed – Thanks for this tribute to Michel Legrand, who really was one of the great (“grand”) movie and jazz composers. I very much like Ed’s version of “What are you doing…”, it is really very, very good.

IOSPlayer - Laura …is one of my favourite movie themes, I am playing myself. Love your very slow and tender / mysterious rendition. The actresse's name is often spelled “Gene” Tierney, I find unusual, I know “Gene” as a male name. Maybe it should rather be “Jean”.
- I do have access to Ed’s file in Germany. -

Jazztpt Two wonderful contemplative jazz pieces, as usual.

My contribution is St. Louis Blues, played by ear some time ago when I was in the mood to try blues on the piano. I hope my poor piano will forgive me.

St. Louis Blues

Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2810446 02/04/19 06:57 AM
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Constantin, a wonderful rendering. I liked the modified stride left hand a lot. Would be great if you could channel some old Louie to ride on top. My mom taught me St.Louis Blues when I was ten. She was a pretty good stride bass player. My first look into an unknown world. Good one!

Here is something I did last night....

https://soundcloud.com/michael-levy-387395070/dminor-fluxation


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Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2810890 02/05/19 08:22 AM
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Tim,

Most enjoyable pieces and well played. I did not know 'You must believe in Spring'.

Ian


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Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
IosPlayer #2810895 02/05/19 08:28 AM
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IOSPlayer - I liked your rendition of Laura.


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Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
jazztpt #2810899 02/05/19 08:33 AM
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Jazztpt,

Great listening of 'Yes I Do' and 'Starting out'. Seems like that style could become my kind of jazz smile


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Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Pianist685 #2810901 02/05/19 08:41 AM
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Pianist685,

I think I have an original 1922 copy of St. Louis Blues sheet music somewhere. Your version is very different but superbly played especially as you played without sheet music. That is a talent which at 72, I will never be able to master.


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Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2810904 02/05/19 08:48 AM
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Here are two pieces which take me away from my previous genres offerings:

Dmitri Shostakovich Waltz No2 from Suite No2 for Jazz Orchestra

Scott Joplin's - Swipesy


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Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2811251 02/06/19 06:14 AM
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Pianist685 - well that was good, didn't know they played the blues in Germany :-) , well done that was great.

Beemer - Very nice playing indeed, I really enjoyed listening to your performances. That Shostakovich sounds so familiar but not sure from where. Great stuff.

Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2811404 02/06/19 01:21 PM
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Hi, folks! Well -- time to catch up on the commentary!

Riddler -- Thanks for providing what I call the straightforward arrangement to "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life". You can hear the rich chording and really quite subtle progressions built into Legrand's original conception. I confess that I had trouble "hearing" Shearing reharmonizations when I first learned it (about 30 years ago or so) -- Shearing admitted that he was especially fascinated with different voicing possibilities of American Standards, and shared them in his Sheet Music publications. I only heard him once, with his combo, and he performed his reharmonized version of "The Star Spangled Banner" as one of his selections, leaving a good many mouths agape -- some with displeasure. Hmm... wonder if he'd get away with that now!

IosPlayer -- Just a sumptuous cover of "Laura" -- that truly classic American Songbook standard, compliments of lyricist Johnny Mercer and composer David Raksin. The lyric is, of course, beyond beautiful, and the emotional quality of your rendition just fits the content of the lyric like a glove. I also greatly enjoyed your D Minor Fluxation, although I think I would have brought in your "swinging combo" mode about a minute earlier than you did, at 4:20 or so. I agree with Jazztpt that the intro to "Laura" was especially creative, and also thought that the ending of "Fluxation" was especially poignant and beautiful.

jazztpt -- In very general terms, it has always struck me that there are two categories within traditional Jazz performances -- improvs based upon "Standards", most typically from "The Great American Songbook", and improvs based more specifically upon Jazz themes (the ones in Real Fakebooks), which to my ear are based more on melodic lines that arise from the implied chordal and rhythmic changes uniquely associated with the "Language of Jazz". I mention this because that's how I related to both "Yes, I Do" and "Starting Out" -- I had to listen a few times to hear the themes properly, to enhance enjoyment of the listening experience. Of the two, I much preferred "Starting Out", but largely because of the combo that you introduced about a third of the way in -- that really cooked! To date, that was my favorite of your considerable legacy here on PW!

Pianist685 -- A great cover of that venerable Standard "St Louis Blues". All that ornamentation is for me just essential to Blues performances, just as surely as it is in French Baroque harpsichord writing. And I agree that the walking stride bass -- really closer to a swagger in feel -- is a totally appropriate enhancement. There's gotta be some dirt and rawness in the mix!

Beemer -- Really nice renditions of Shosty's Waltz and "Swipesy". The Waltz #2 has a charming "Old Jazz" feel to it -- Europeans in the 1920s who were fascinated by this new music "Jas", but really didn't "swing" at all convincingly. Actually, though, Shostakovich understood the medium quite well -- listen to his utterly charming version of Vincent Youmans' "Tea for Two", which I understand took him one hour to arrange! And a special sound-out for "Swipesy" -- I think that's exactly how a Joplin rag should be played: very little pedal; close attention to the syncopations; relatively slow in tempo. Heck, Joplin told you how he wanted them to be played -- why not believe him?

Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
Tim Adrianson #2811460 02/06/19 03:40 PM
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IosPlayer –D minor fluxation A very good jazz improvisation, thanks for sharing, but I rather prefer your rendition of “Laura”. These long jazz improvisations are not quite my kind of music, I like catchy melodies better.

Beemer – Shostakovich Waltz A fine piano transcription of this wonderful waltz you are playing very securely and in the appropriate tempo without any difficulty. Bravo! Interestingly, Shostakovich was asked to compose jazz-oriented pieces without imitating the “decadent” western style. He ended up with this kind of spa orchestra music and called it jazz.

Beemer – Swipesy This is very nice! The sound of your piano in this recording is just perfect for ragtime. Thanks for this precise and very appropriate interpretation with little pedal, as should be. Perfect tempo. Quoting Joplin: “It is never right to play ragtime fast”.
- So you are only 72? What a young man. You are only 18 years ahead of me. -

Re: Piano Bar -- Feb 2019
jazztpt #2811537 02/06/19 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by jazztpt
Pianist685 - well that was good, didn't know they played the blues in Germany :-) , well done that was great.

Beemer - Very nice playing indeed, I really enjoyed listening to your performances. That Shostakovich sounds so familiar but not sure from where. Great stuff.


A whole list of movie performances here:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Shostakovich+jazz+waltz+movie.

However I first heard the piece in the garden scene of a full length animated movie called "Coraline"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FycwmbNPl_U

I next heard it live played by André Rieu's orchestra.

The piece was made for an orchestra not piano. I suppose I could have used my Yamaha Tyros 5, 76 key arranger keyboard to play the whole orchestra but that's not the point of a "Piano Bar" group is it?

Thanks for your kind words about both of my pieces.

Ian


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