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Monday Notes

Someday My Prince Will Come, from Snow White to Jazz

[Monday Notes no. 39] Many songs in the jazz repertoire derive from musicals and films, and cartoons are no exception. In the 1937 cartoon, Snow White sings Someday My Prince Will Come to an audience of dwarves and forest animals.

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Monday Notes

Paul Desmond, Wendy. The Art of jazz contrafact

[Monday Notes no. 105] There is a genre of compositions that in jazz are called contrafacts. Nothing illegal about it: these are pieces created using the harmonic progressions of already existing pieces. Wendy by Paul Desmond belongs to this category, in fact the chords are taken from For All We Know, a song from 1934.

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Monday Notes

Sidney Bechet, Sweet Georgia Brown. A jazz piece with very few chords

[Monday Notes no. 99] Sweet Georgia Brown is a song that dates back to 1925, when jazz was taking its first steps. The piece became a very popular jazz standard and Miles Davis used its harmonic progression in his song Dig. We hear a version by Sidney Bechet, a true master of 1920s jazz.

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Monday Notes

Art Pepper, Lost Life. A jazz piece with a Hispanic tinge

[Monday Notes no.95] An experienced musician once advised me: “if while improvising you come up with a phrase you have already used, don’t play it. Rather take a rest, and think of something different.” This is a very radical position for a jazz musician, yet there is one saxophonist who sometimes seems to think in…

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Monday Notes

John Coltrane, Acknowledgement. A Love Supreme, Jazz and spirituality

[Monday Note No. 90] Acknowledgement is the first track on the album A Love Supreme, a suite in four movements in which John Coltrane describes his religious conversion. A spiritual path that is also an original and innovative musical journey.

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Monday Notes

Ben Webster, Chelsea Bridge. The warm voice of the tenor sax

[Monday Notes no. 18] A former member of Duke Ellington’s orchestra, Ben Webster began like many by imitating Coleman Hawkins, later developing a more personal style. The saxophonist was capable of powerful and passionate playing but his most original characteristics are his warm timbre and masterful use of dynamics, as occurs in Chelsea Bridge.

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Monday Notes

Kenny Clarke & Charlie Parker, Si Si. Bebop nights at Minton

[Monday Notes no. 17] Every art has its own magic places, where at a particular moment something special and decisive happened. For jazz music, one of these places is certainly Minton’s, where some musicians used to meet late at night for endless jam sessions, sometimes after playing elsewhere. Drummer Kenny Clarke was one of them.

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Monday Notes

Billie Holiday e Lester Young, Without Your Love

[Monday’s Note No. 5] Billie Holiday had a troubled existence, full of suffering. Many men enriched themselves by exploiting her, only to turn their backs on her in times of trouble. Among her few genuine friends was Lester Young, to whom she owes the nickname ‘Lady Day’. Let us analyse their interpretation of Without Your…

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Monday Notes

Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto, Ligia. Rendezvous in Ipanema

[Monday’s Notes No. 87] Sometimes after a first romantic date it can happen that one of the two falls madly in love, totally unrequited. This is what fears the protagonist of Ligia, who fights a battle against love that he cannot win. The song is performed here by Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz.

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Monday Notes

Gato Barbieri, Merceditas. Music of the Andes meets Jazz

[Monday Notes No. 56] Merceditas is taken from Bolivia, one of Gato Barbieri’s best albums. The song makes extensive use of the pentatonic scale. The scale is used in various musical cultures, from Africa to the Far East, to Andean folk music, which uses instruments tuned precisely to the pentatonic scale.

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