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Monday Notes

Nat King Cole plays and sings Mona Lisa, a song with an Italian flavour

[Monday Note 36] Nat King Cole was a formidable jazz pianist, yet he had greater success as a singer. Songs such as Mona Lisa, Smile and Unforgettable made him popular and led to him to be the first African American to lead a television show.

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Monday Notes

Gassmann blues, Piero Umiliani’s music for I soliti ignoti by Monicelli

[Monday Notes n.153] For the soundtrack of the film I soliti ignoti the director Mario Monicelli chose a young Florentine musician named Piero Umiliani. Monicelli wanted a completely jazzy soundtrack, an unusual choice at the time. Let us analyse the main theme entitled Gassmann Blues.

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Monday Notes

Lester Young Trio, The Man I Love

[Monday Notes No.35] The Man I Love is a great classic of jazz and American music, one of the most beautiful love songs composed by George Gershwin. The lyrics of the song tell the story of waiting for love, the protagonist daydreams of the arrival of the man who will make her happy, her predestined…

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Monday Notes

Lester Young Trio, I’ve Found a New Baby

[Monday Notes No.34] In this trio recording of I’ve Found a New Baby Lester Young plays with Buddy Rich on drums and Nat King Cole on piano, who hid behind the witty pseudonym Aye Guy because he was under contract with another label and could not appear under his real name. The line-up is unusual…

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Monday Notes

Chet Baker, Little Girl Blue. The instrument as a voice

[Monday Notes No 33] In jazz, the voice often performs like a musical instrument, e.g. Billie Holiday has been known to imitate Louis Armstrong’s trumpet. Sometimes the reverse happens and it is the instruments that try to imitate the human voice. This is what happens in Little Girl Blue, performed by Chet Baker.

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Monday Notes

Chet Baker, Do It the Hard Way. The voice as an instrument

[Monday Notes No.32] Chet Baker was a great trumpeter and singer who lived a tormented life. Addicted to drugs for over 30 years almost continuously, he went from the heights of beauty and success to the depths of desolation and degradation. Let’s listen to his interpretation of a song written by Rodgers-Hart, Do It the…

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Monday Notes

Modern Jazz Quartet, Milano. Between classical music and Jazz

[Monday Notes No. 31] The Modern Jazz Quartet was one of the longest-running jazz ensembles on the jazz scene. John Lewis was a promoter of the third current and was pursuing a contact between European classical music and jazz.

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Monday Notes

Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz, Desafinado. Bossa nova becomes jazz

[Monday Notes n.30] The album Jazz Samba released in 1962 by Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz introduced Brazilian music to the jazz repertoire. Dizzy Gillespie and others had already been mixing Jazz and Cuban music since the 40’s, while Brazilian music had remained on the sidelines. Let’s listen to and analyze Desafinado.

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Monday Notes

Whispering, Lionel Hampton was the first great jazz vibraphonist

[Monday Notes n.28] Like the saxophone, electric guitar and drums, the vibraphone reached the broader public through jazz music. An instrument invented in the ’20s, it was in fact popularized by Lionel Hampton, a vibraphonist hired by Benny Goodman in his quartet in the mid-’30s. Let’s listen to the two musicians playing Whispering.

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Monday Notes

Nuages by Django Reinhardt, the first great European jazz musician

[Monday Notes n.27] Django Reinhardt is one of the first great jazz musicians of European origin. Born in Belgium, French by adoption but of Sinti origin, Django Reinhardt mixed his own Gypsy musical culture with French melody and jazz. We analyse one of his compositions entitled Nuages.