RE:MIXED “My Funny Valentine” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Based on an earlier version of mine I sampled two elements, the vocal and strings from the original 2″ analogue reel and am working on building a new arrangement around it.
This is the quintessential classic song and a perfect example of a tune that will always stand the test of time. What makes a song timeless ? I wish I knew as I would be writing them but I have noticed that they all have certain quirks that make them stand out from the pack.
Always looking out for Pat Martino albums, I was fortunate to find a rare vinyl copy of Footsteps, his tribute to Wes Montgomery and was just floored by his cover of Jobim’s “How Insensitive”. Covering ballads are always troublesome as the tempos leave you exposed. It’s akin to slowing time down in the film domain exposing every frame. It’s even harder to do justice to probably one of the most loved Bosa Nova songs but I naively took it on.
“How Insensitive” was one of the first songs I started working on. The brief to myself was simple. Write the most “insensitive” arrangement while retaining its beauty. A contradiction which led to many, many days and weeks where I wished I had choosen another song. Sometimes perseverance pays off but I am still not sure if it has. We shall see.
While researching “Fair Use” policies for the album I ran across this.
Google chiptune mash / remix and the results will be people basically taking tunes and remaking them on their Nintendo/Commodore/emulated 8 bit machines but it also applies to the artwork that goes with it.
After what seemed like an eternity in the car Charlie, who I thought was asleep the whole time, opened his eyes and a smile broke on his face. “Let’s get this done!!!”. With that he headed off for his rehearsal and I ecstatically drove home to prepare for our session the next day before heading out again for the show.
That evening the Mardi Gras festival come to us!! Incredible musicianship with big beats, sub sonic Tuba riffs, swinging tenors, talking trombones and wailing clarinets that combined into an irresistible groove. Half way through Charlie kicked off on solo clarinet then broke into song. What a voice!!
After one of the best concerts I’ve been to we met up and he reminisced about his early years and I complemented him on his vocal prowess. I also tried to eek out any information on my heroes like Professor Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith, James Booker and the good Dr.John, all giants of New Orleans piano all of whom he knew. Nursing a bourbon he regaled one fascinating story after another whilst I complemented him on his vocal prowess.
The evening came to an end and Charlie took his last sip, bid his farewells and with a sly grin said that he would be more than happy to do the vocals on the album as well.
I felt like a low class grifter!!
That night the stars seemed to twinkle that much brighter.
About to abandon the song 6 months down the road I found out that the Preservation Hall Jazz Band were coming to town for a two day stint. Not only was this a sheer coincidence but it was also featuring Charlie Gabriel, a legendary New Orleans clarinet player who played with the Lionel Hampton Band at age sixteen!!
Managing to get in contact with him he agreed to meet me when he landed in town but would like to hear my arrangement before he would commit to anything. It didn’t really matter as both ways I would get to spend time with a true legend.
The day came when I nervously walked through the foyer of the hotel to meet Charlie. Dressed in a dapper suit, clarinet case in hand he let out a huge reverberant chuckle when he noticed me waving. Knowing I had ten minuted before he had to head to his sound check we exchanged pleasantries while walking to my car for the audition….
Summertime I always knew would have a mid tempo New Orleans groove to it. Having already worked with Neil Conti I knew that the rhythm section was covered as he already was a huge fan of New Orleans drumming and had that second line rhythm down. The part I was going to have the most problems with was finding the right singer and clarinet player.
Andy Peterson who is playing Electric Double Bass for the Jody Grind is still on tour and since I need to record that next I have put it aside and spent today looking for a Hang Drum player who would be suitable for my arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo”, and I think I have found one. Here is Manu Delago playing this fairly modern, what can only be described as a UFO wok like instrument, with a hypnotic sound. Sent him a mail and hope he is up for it. Would be good to hang out…
“Manu Delago: ‘Hang Solo'”. YouTube.com. Uploaded by lovingmecha on Sep 18, 2007 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17ojj7tgrqw&feature=player_embedded>.
Just went through Neil’s Drum takes and all I can say is nothing as I am smiling too much!!! Incredible player through an incredible kit recorded on a Studer A810 reel to reel to real!!!! Analogue bliss :0)
Duke Ellington was prolific. With over a thousand compositions under his belt you would think picking a song to cover would be problematic. For me there were always four that stood out, In a Sentimental Mood, Solitude, Mood Indigo and the lesser known Reflections in D. All to me point to an introverted, intelligent and devastatingly emotional being, able to articulate all through euphonics. Its a double edged sword.
You ain’t been blue,
no, no, no
You ain’t been blue
Till you’ve had that mood indigo
For what I had in mind, those lyrics picked the song for me. Along with the hauntingly beautiful horn arrangement, the words dictated the tempo and the title the colour.