Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Days of Wine and Roses

Sometimes hearing a great player performing a tune that you don't like can completely change your opinion of the song.  The Days of Wine and Roses turned out to be one of those jazz songs for me.  I never really liked this song.  It always seemed pretty schmaltzy to me.  Or maybe people were playing it as just an obligatory standard to get through the night playing some boring gig.  At any rate, I've always stayed away from it, even when I was playing a bit of guitar.

But then, as seems so often these days, I heard David Hazeltine play the song on his Classic Trio album and I started hearing it differently.   It went right on the "must try this someday" list.  The energy he plays it with and the little hooks that he employs just draws you in.  I stole as much as possible for the arrangement presented here.

David Hazeltine

"Days" was written by Henry Mancini with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

The phrase "days of wine and roses" is originally from the poem "Vitae Summa Brevis" by the English writer Ernest Dowson (1867–1900):

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
   Out of a misty dream
   Our path emerges for a while,  then closes
   Within a dream.

Geek Alert

This is a classic swing style arrangement.  One of the hooks that I think make it so compelling is the pedaled bass on the 5th (C in this case) that leads from the legato intro into the swing portion of the song.  When that resolves down to the the root for the beginning of the swing melody, it just sounds - like jazz.

I thought a vibes player joining me would add a lot of color.  What do you think?

Additional instrumentation courtesy of PGMusic.


  1. Ken,

    Keep up the great work!
    You managed to transform our recital duet into an excellent ensemble recording. Your ability to mix the acoustic piano with the sound files is making your trio sound more and more like they are with you in the studio. Your piano work is exhibiting more and more finesse. No need to ask me about adding the vibes solo. It's one of my favorite instruments! Good job of accompanying your virtual soloist.
    Congratulations on yet another terrific recording!

  2. Thanks Ed! I did neglect to say that you and I just recently did this one as a piano duet. That was a lot of fun. I think we did it much faster than the 114 bpm that I'm using here!