The moody "Theme from Blonde," with Roy Hargrove's mellow trumpet in the spotlight, sets the stage for an album of relaxed swing and throwbacks to an earlier, comfortable period. Marilyn Monroe was a product of the big band era. It affected her tastes in music ... and other things. She later helped launch Playboy magazine. Now, a television mini-series based on the life of Monroe helps launch Concord's Playboy Jazz label. Patrick Williams' songs and arrangements depict a life of glamour and fabled success that is undermined by nagging questions and mystery. Suave tenor saxophonists Scott Hamilton and Plas Johnson recall an era when jazz was "cool" and simple. Like the life of Marilyn Monroe, jazz was not over-analyzed, back then, to the point of trivialization. How times have changed.
Gregg Field and Warren Luening lead a terrific selection that recalls the mesmerizing power of Gene Krupa. Bill Watrous and Plas Johnson trade solos on a mellow big band ballad. Similarly, Kenny Burrell and Mike Lang trade off in a heated Count Basie kind of affair. James Moody's conversation with the orchestra on "Me and my Baby" changes the scene slightly, as the veteran smokes an improvised affair to heat things up. The jazz standard "Three Little Words" features Watrous and clarinetist Terry Harrington. Luening's ballad feature, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," adds a touch of class, while Dennis Rowland's vocal selection summarizes the film's searing passion and lonelier moments.
Concord Records has selected from the finest of L.A.'s big band artists to produce the soundtrack for this mini-series and inaugural Playboy label release. The mood that Patrick Williams captures is both genuine and fresh.
Track Listing: Theme fromBlonde; Party Time; The Blues for Norma Jean; The Road to My Heart; Cool Pads; Heat (The Slow Burn); Chelsea Bridge; The Big Time Bounce; One Sunny Day; Firelight; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; You're My Dream; Easy Street; Me and My Baby; Three Little Words; The Road to My Heart.
Personnel: Ray Brown- bass; Kenny Burrell- guitar; Roy Hargrove, Snooky Young- trumpet; Bill Watrous- trombone; Plas Johnson, Scott Hamilton, James Moody- tenor saxophone; Dennis Rowland- vocal; Orchestra: Mike Lang- piano; Chuck Berghofer- bass; Gregg Field- drums; Mundell Lowe- guitar; Larry Bunker- vibraphone; Warren Luening, Wayne Bergeron- trumpet; Dan Higgins- alto saxophone; Terry Harrington- tenor saxophone, clarinet; Lee Callett- baritone saxophone; Endr
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.