March 17, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
As the luck of the Irish would have it, Nathaniel Adams Cole , aka Nat King Cole, was born on this date. Most people know him more as the singer of "Nature Boy" than of "Danny Boy."
I think I love Nat Cole's piano playing as much as, if not more than, I love his smoky voice. Years ago, I spent college scholarship money on the 18-CD set on Mosaic Records, The Complete Capitol Recordings of the Nat King Cole Trio. 349 songs from 1942-1961. Now out of print...
I suppose that technically counted as an education expense, right?
Anyway, here's a video of Nat Cole playing "Tea for Two." Listen for the "Foggy Day" quote in his introduction, and to his "Rhapsody in Blue" reference in his solo. - Josh
© 2008 WBGO
March 6, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Happy birthday today to Wes Montgomery. Any guitarist worth his or her salt has at least ONE album from Wes Montgomery, the master non-plectrist. No, I didn't invent that word, plectrist. It's actually derived from plectrum, which is what guitar nerds and speakers of dead languages call a pick. [Incidentally, another great guitarist, Billy Bauer, made a record in the 1950s called Plectrist. But I'm getting even more off topic here.]
Wes Montgomery, however, was a non-plectrist. He didn't use an external tool to pick the strings. He used his thumb. That's what makes Wes Montgomery's sound so identifiable - warm, casual, and about as 'natural' as an amplified electric instrument can sound without using algorithms or superhero powers.
Check out this video of Wes playing Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight." About two minutes in, you'll see the closeup on his hand. Not plectacular, but spectacular. - Josh
PS - Anyone have a favorite Wes Montgomery album, song, or solo?
© 2008 WBGO
March 2, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
It's the birthday of tenor saxophone legend Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. He was a pretty powerful presence in bands led by Cootie Williams, Lucky Millinder, Andy Kirk, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie. He also led his own sessions, which included swing, bop, hard bop, Latin jazz, and soul jazz genres. Basically, Eddie Davis played a lot of music. Check out this video - Eddie plays Ray Noble's "Cherokee" with the Count Basie Orchestra.
© 2008 WBGO