VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Prelude To A Kiss Mixtape”


Source: Breath of Life - (BoL Mixtape - January 17, 2011)

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It’s deep. My love for Duke Ellington’s music. Here’s a sublime song from 1938, over seventy years ago that is recorded in this new millennium as a jazz standard, rather than as a hoary classic of days gone by. You can play it with a “now” sound and it remains as fresh as when it first blossomed from the pen of Mr. Ellington.

Here is a double dozen of interpretations. Consider it a spray of roses of varying hues, intensities and shades of red and the aroma, my god the fragrance alone will whisk you off into a reverie for or with a beloved.

Need I say, enjoy?

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01 Complete Ellington Indigos – Duke Ellington Orchestra
This one features the master of sensual saxophone of the alto variety, Mr. Johnny Hodges doing his romantic damage to reluctant libidos who find themselves not only mesmerized but totally captivated by the way this man’s breath bends and glistens those tones from his saxophone.

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02 Quiet Now: Ella’s Moods – Ella Fitzgerald
Unless my ears totally misinform me, that’s Ray Nance on violin and Ben Webster on tenor, both of whom ably abet Ms. Fitzgerald.

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03 Elegy In Blue – Benny Carter
It’s easy to over look or not remember some of the veterans of previous jazz eras, but the minute you hear the easy swing of this outfit with Cedar Walton on piano and Harry “Sweets” Edison assisting Mr. Carter on alto. Benny had this way of raising his notes in upward little curlicues, and his phrasing is exquisite. Listen to Benny if you want to understand a different, albeit no less beautiful, approach to swing-based soloing.

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04 Duke Ellington Songbook, Vol. 2 – Sarah Vaughan
Sassy doing adroitly doing what only Sassy did so well. A full rich tone, a vivid imagination and voice control befitting a master diamond jeweler.

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05 Dimensions – McCoy Tyner
Mr. Tyner favored a two-handed, bunching of block chords with thunderous arpeggios. Tender is not what first comes to mind when one listens to Tyner’s passionate pummeling of the ivories, but damn if he doesn’t reveal another way to caress a melody.

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06 Heritage – Nnenna Freelon
Nnenna is another one of my favorites who too often gets overlooked. Not only does she possess a gorgeous voice, she also has a distinctive style and beautiful breath control—listen to her held note at the end of the song, listen how she swells it to a crescendo even though it’s not an easy note to hit. Bravo.

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07 Music For Loving – Ben Webster
Here my man is featured with strings; oh, forget the strings. Here is my man whose tenor sound was both robust and breathy at the same time.  Sonically, you might even call this some heavy petting.

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08 The Complete Billie Holiday On Verve – Billie Holiday
We all know that Billie is a very, very dry martini, slightly chilled garnished with a tiny sour olive. And oh, look, that’s Benny Carter making his second appearance. Listen to the entrance to his solo. Those old cats had such smooth moves.

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09 Solo Piano – Sir Roland Hanna
My man picks up where Art Tatum left off. We get flashes of the melody between beautiful flourishes of finger-busting prestidigitations.

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10 Any Old Time – Carmen McRae
Among singers, she’s the dark horse. Far, far from the first voice you think of to sing a ballad, but damn how she enunciates with that impeccable timing as though she were a stand-up comic dropping one one-liner after another. Check how she makes a melody out of breaking down the syllables. She’s magical.

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11 Duke In Blue – Ellis Marsalis
Ellis makes elegance sound so effortlessly easy. I particularly like the way he suspends time to make room for a harmonically rich run up and down the keyboard and then turns around and throws in a quote from different songs almost like he’s winking at the listener.

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12 But Beautiful – Nancy Wilson
A young Nancy Wilson just steals your breath away with her trademark phrasing that set her apart from all of her contemporaries. Her sound is the sound of a seductive coo, an irresistible coo, a coo that softly calls for your attention; or, should I say, calls for at the very least all of your attention, leaving you ready to throw her way everything else you’ve got if only she were singing to only you.

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13 Introducing Brad Mehldau – Brad Mehldau
This man’s hands fit so comfortably in the gloves formerly worn by Bill Evans. It’s not that sound just alike, it’s more that they share a penchant for re-harmonizing and introspection.

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14 Magic Voices – Singers Unlimited
Four voices producing vocal harmonies into a lush sound as comfortable as a silk covered, goose down pillow atop satin sheets.

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15 The Roy Haynes Trio – Roy Haynes
That’s Danilo Perez absolutely asserting his claim to piano master status. Rather than go for the simple pleasure of highlighting the melody, Mr. Perez opts for a head to toe, front to back investigation of all the curves and crevices. Notice that his touch is far from clinical, or (to use a well worn but not inappropriate cliché) he’s no MD, he’s a doctor feelgood and it seems as though the audience responded well to Perez’s medications.

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16 Old Flames – Sonny Rollins
I don’t think any living tenor saxophonist has more heft to his sound than does Mr. Rollins who, sound-wise, is a whole saxophone section all by himself. Plus, the man knows more music than seems humanly possible, thus his solos manifest a richness and depth beyond compare.

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17 Destination Unknown – Sun Ra
I know, I know this is the last aggregation you expect but cast aside your prejudices and be delighted by the fierce humor and what Monk called the “ugly beauty” of this off kilter but right on time interpretation.

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18 Puente Caliente! – Tito Puente
We had to throw in at least one hot Latin interpretation if we were going to present a fully rounded presentation of the various ways in which one approaches the art of kissing.

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19 Live: An Evening With The Mel Brown… – Mel Brown
A veteran drummer from the Northwest territory who doesn’t mess around with this up tempo romp, sort of like a quick spin on one of those flying rides at the amusement park that leave you exhilarated albeit a little woozy.

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20 & 21 Roberta – Roberta Flack
Roberta is not your average candidate for a hip hop interpretation, nor is “Prelude To A Kiss” the kind of song one would think to drop the boom bap behind. To tell the truth Roberta’s opening rap is a bit elementary but her singing remains on the one and it’s totally enjoyable, sort of like sixty-some graduates joining in one gigantic line dance at the senior prom.

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22 Prelude To A Kiss – Miki Hayama
Another excellent piano feature that includes some timely stride touches and offering a fulsome display of her keyboard command. What I like most is that she subtle rather than flashy.

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23 American Song – Andy Bey
There ought to be a law against any one male vocalist having this combination of captivating voice and musical sensitivity. It almost sounds as though Ellington composed this song especially for Andy Bey to sing. What an enthralling reading Bey offers.

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24 The Sound Of Love – Tommy Smith
Scottish tenor saxophonist Tommy Smith presents a beautiful example of what a talent from across the water can bring to jazz ballad playing. His playing reminds me of soft snowflakes drifting downward during a day long early winter snowfall.

—Kalamu ya Salaam

 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 5:12 am and is filed under Cover. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


4 Responses to “VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Prelude To A Kiss Mixtape””

tayari Says:
January 20th, 2011 at 8:19 am

Words get in the way. Take the word “sublime.” Webster says: “to cause to pass directly from solid to the vapor state and condense back to solid form; to elevate or exalt esp. in dignity or honor; to render finer (as purity or excellence); to convert (something inferior) into something of higher worth.” Ellington’s PRELUDE TO A KISS is sublime multiplied by seven. Thank you Duke Ellington. Thank you, Kalamu, for bringing this to us.


tayari Says:
January 21st, 2011 at 9:11 am

U workin’ the erotic. U be word smith, knowledgeable & informed, passionate & perceptive.


Sistah EP Says:
January 24th, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Many times the outta-sight music and the right-on commentary leave me speechless. But, that’s no excuse not to say simply, “Thank You” for your generosity!


Gayle Bell Says:
January 26th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

This music steals me away.


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