Monday, November 29, 2010

Greensleeves (What Child Is This)

12/20/2011 Update:

Since it is Christmas time,  I seem to get a number of hits on this posting, as people look on the internet for how to play jazz renditions of Greensleeves/What Child Is This.  I originally recorded this with using accompaniment provided by band-in-a-box that only could have real players on the drums.  The only options were MIDI for everything else.  So I used a midi bass, recorded myself on guitar for a few accent points, and had no other instruments other than piano.  I also let the song go on for too long :-).  So using a more modern version of band-in-a box with all real players, a slightly different bossa feel, and cutting out a verse, here is a Remix of What Child Is This.    

Original Post

It's Christmas time!  I don't know about anyone else, but my favorite part of Christmas is the free part.   I've come to terms with the "presents" thing and the crass consumerism of the holiday.  But being with family, and reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas is really where its at.   (Celia, I think I need the "it's" and "its" lesson.  I will use them at random to cover all of the bases :-)).  And the music....mmmm.  I know a lot of people hate Christmas music because you start hearing it before Thankgiving is over.  Some of my favorite jazz tunes to play are Christmas songs, though.  Many of the best ones are wicked hard too, as we say in Boston.

I'm hoping to post a couple of Christmas songs.  First up is a 4/4 latin bossa version of  What Child Is This.  My band and I pushed this out with one take, so that we could move on to get another blog post out before Christmas, so please forgive the mistakes.  I'm playing acoustic guitar on this also and I'm trying to assess if it creates too much conflict with the piano or not.  (Music note: the guitar voicings for the 5 chords on a bossa often have a #5 substitute, like an A7#5 in this song.  I'm not doing that on the piano, so I'm not sure if it is clashing or sounds good.)

Update:  I did get input that the guitar was too clashy.  I remixed this to make the guitar more tasteful.  Hopefully the new version sounds better

My favorite version of this song has to be by guitar play Larry Carleton on his Christmas At My House CD.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hymne a L'Amour (If You Love Me)

So here I was on yet another business trip.  I was in Washington D.C. staying at the Gaylord National hotel for a few nights.  Each night they had a piano player in the cocktail lounge.  Mostly the players were just OK, but one guy was incredible.  Naturally, I was the only one listening in the entire lounge - such is the life of a jazz piano player I guess.  But this player was so creative with rhythms, voicings, and melodies that I could not concentrate on anything else, including my work colleagues.  His name was Fred Hughes.  I knew each of the tunes Fred was playing, except for one.  The melody of this tune was so beautiful that I had to find out what it was.  Fred told me that it was a French song by Edith Piaf named Hymne a  L'Amour.  I resolved that I had to find music for this and take a crack at playing it for the blog. 

Well, I rooted it out, and found some great versions on iTunes. But what is really interesting is that I actually had an opportunity to play and record this live!  On my subsequent business trip to San Francisco, there was an open piano at a restaurant where we were waiting to be seated.  Here is one of my travel companion's recording of my quick take on Hymne a l'amour.

(Music note.  Apparently I've stumbled on something called a plagal cadence that I use in the ending of this tune.)

Here is a link to Fred's web site and a little postscript in French.

J'ai joué un tour sur vous!   Le bruit de la foule et des applaudissements a été créé par voie électronique.