Thursday, July 26, 2012

A House Is Not A Home

A chair is still a chair
Even when there's no one sittin' there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there's no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss goodnight 

A House Is Not a Home was written in 1964 by the team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David and recorded by Dionne Warwick. Not many people heard it though, since it peaked out at #71 on the US pop singles charts. People really started becoming familiar with the song when it was covered by R&B singer Luther Vandross, whose version became an R&B hit in 1981. His performance of the song at the NAACP Awards telecast brought Warwick to tears.

The song has also been frequently featured on the popular television show American Idol, with performances by Tamyra Gray, Ruben Studdard, Anwar Robinson (my favorite version), Elliott Yamin (love his too) and Jacob Lusk.

Bill Evans recorded the song for his 1977 album I Will Say Goodbye and other notable jazz musicians such as Sonny Rollins have performed and recorded the song—it has thus acquired the status of a jazz standard.  

But my real inspiration to try this song was the incredible version done by David Hazletine.  While normally done as as a ballad,  he really smokes this thing.  He has a swingin' hot trio arrangement,  drum solos,  and signature licks throughout.  I feel like I am cheating on Bill Evans by liking this one so much,  but such is life. Once again,  trying to play an arrangement like this is quite beyond where I am, but it is a lot of fun to try!   Coming up with an arrangement is an accomplishment by itself even if you can't play it very well at these speeds.  Coaxing my virtual band-mates to play such an arrangement is another accomplishment.   

So yes, I have a swingin' hot arrangement and drum solos.  Just no signature licks.  But if you have the right framework, it is very listenable anyway.

Geek Alert

The song hums along at 191 beats per minute, which is definitely the fastest on that I've ever tried.  You can tell from some of the awkwardness in certain solo sections that velocity of chord changes was more than I can effectively handle.
This was the first time that I tried incorporating drum solos.  The arrangement called for a strange trading pattern where the drummer plays 12 bars, piano 8, drummer, 12, piano 8,drummer 8, piano 8, drummer 12.
On top of that my drummer can only trade 4's.  So  I needed to sample a number of his solos and mix the best ones together into solos of the right length.  Sheesh. 

There is some trick(s) to making the little piano solos in between the drums solos sound like jazz.  I'm not sure what they are.  I tried ending the phrase with a descending 5th.  That sounds like something.  There is just some casualness to the way that you end that makes it sound right.  I guess you just have to listen a lot to  the way good players do it.    

David Hazeltine
Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Bill Evans

1 comment:

  1. Ken,
    As usual, you have outdone yourself.
    Your intro was quite a surprise based on what we considered last week. It is a terrific solution to the issue of the best way to start to arrangement.
    You not only put an excellent presentation, but you have effectively integrated your virtual sidemen. Wow!!!!
    Congratulations on another wonderful performance.
    Keep going!