Sunday, April 10, 2011

Theme from M*A*S*H

One of the great things about music is the memories that it can invoke.  We've all heard that song from high school and have been transported back to those days of long hair and  questionable behavior.  One of the great things about jazz is that you can play a song differently from the original and still have the memories flow.  I found that to be true when I was playing Nature Boy (originally by Nat King Cole) and bringing back strong memories of my Dad.  The Theme from M*A*S*H is another song that brings back so many memories.  The simple melody in this song is strongly identifiable to so many Americans -  and probably many around the world.

To me, this song is indelibly associated with my Father-in-law, Tony Meloni.  For many years,  M*A*S*H was Tony's favorite TV show.  Decades really.  All of us who grew up in that house (I met my Celia when I was 21, so I consider myself to have grown up in that house too!) have heard this theme song more than Happy Birthday, Jingle Bells, and the Beatles catalog combined.  For a while there it seemed like the episodes were on continuous loop. We can each probably tell you the plot to almost any episode!  The only thing that comes close is the familiarity that the Taylor clan has with Full House episodes :-)  

Although for some reason I don't call him "Dad" like sons-in-law often do, he has always been like a father to me - the only one that I've known in my adult life.  Here are some great pictures of Dad with Cliff and Max, and showing the Yankee colors like a true fan.  This one is for you!

Dad and  Cliff

Tony Meloni, the consummate Yankees fan

Showing serious moves with Max

The great players with me on this arrangement are Eric Marienthal on tenor sax, Neil Swainson on bass, and Franklin Richardson on drums.

Geek Alert

I wanted to create a version of Theme from M*A*S*H where you could make the claim that this "really swings hard".  I think that I got the comping section over the sax solo to swing pretty hard, but my solos - not so much.  This is where not doing scale drills or working on any speed technique really hurts.  I should probably re-examine this philosophy.  Some versions of this song (probably the original) are written with a 2/4 bar in the middle of the verse.  I went with an elongated 4/4 bar that I've heard on other jazz versions.

Also, the weirdest thing on this song - the more I played it, the worse it got!  I'm not sure what accounts for this.  Real players can probably tell me why this happens sometimes, or if it is just me :-)

1 comment:

  1. Ken,

    This is a very tasteful rendition.
    You have managed to create a beautiful ensemble mix with this swing style arrangement.
    Keep up the great work.
    Thanks for sharing!