Christmas with E. Kennedy

Happy Holidays one and all.

I was wrapping presents today, and I couldn’t get a song out of my head.  I sang it to myself for about twenty minutes before realizing I could just listen to the tune on my iPod.

Have you ever not eaten anything all day while running around and then had a delicious meal?  That’s what it felt like as soon as the song was put on.  Everything was just as I had imagined it while singing.  Rhythm section was immaculate, and oh my, the swing.  The feeling that I try to create every time I sit at a piano was staring me in the face.

The track was “Tulip or Turnip” by Duke Ellington, off of Live at Newport, 1956.  Ray Nance was called in as cavalry against the riot that was the rambunctious crowd at that historic concert.

Apparently, the people weren’t digging the show before Paul Gonsalves stood up and put in work.  I can’t believe that.  This album contains one of my top five blues solos of all time, Ray Nance’s on “Blues to Be There”.  Also, I have a strong personal love of Duke’s arrangement of “Tea for Two”, featuring Willie Cook.

More so than anything on the record though, I love Ray’s performance on “Tulip”.  His phrasing is fearless and tasteful.  His trumpet solo after the fairly run of the mill(phrasing-wise) trombone solo(Quintin Jackson, I think), is like a jumpstart from incredible to perfect.  The band is gunning to please the audience, Duke is energetic and powerful, and the tune ends with the audience wanting more.  It’s amazing to hear how the entire band goes to bat for Duke on this(or any) recording.  I love this track.

Happy Holidays.  I hope that sometime this season you find yourself alone in a basement dancing around and singing to one of your favourite records as you remember why you’re in the music.

Love is supreme and unconditional; like is nice but limited. -Duke Ellington

-Martin

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~ by Martin Porter on December 23, 2010.

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