This evening, I will be striding through Kebayoran Baru in Jakarta to the public launch of Erik Sondhy’s album Abbey Road Sessions Vol.1 released internationally on the IndoJazzia label. (No apologies for the selfie plug.)
In an article in Tuesday’s Jakarta Post, Erik says that Keith Jarrett is the contemporary player he most admires because he “plays all genres of music, and is a genius at improvisation.”
In the sleeve notes to Erik’s album I noted echoes of Jarrett, as well as Fats Waller. I also waxed lyrical and wrote of Erik’s “minimalist boogie-woogie“, “melodic classicism“, and suggested that he “plucked memories from the ethereal funk land.”
Now I’m not quite sure what all that means, so you’ll have to listen to the album yourselves and write your own poetry.
Meanwhile, I have an excuse to offer a free downloadable compilation of piano jazz plucked from my mental and digital archives.
When I was a lad still at school and living at home in South London, the preferred music was my father’s. He loved piano jazz, and had an upright piano on which he played ‘standards’. This is his version of Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm recorded about ten years ago when he was 85.
I wasn’t allowed to touch the piano, nor the various recorded music players which were placed next to his piano. And these tracks are, with just a few variations, some of the music I had as the soundtrack of my early years.
01. Russ Conway – Pixilated Penguin
Russ had 20 or so singles in the UK charts between 1957 and 1962, including two number ones. This track was the ‘B’ side to his biggest hit Side Saddle.
02. Dave Brubeck – Unsquare Dance
A track from Time Further Out. I challenge you to clap along to the very end … I always fail!
03. Fats Waller – Viper’s Drag
Fats was incredibly popular, but mainly for his songs such as I’m Going To Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter. I always preferred his instrumentals, such as this one about smoking marijuana. I don’t think my father made that connection.
04. Dill Jones Trio – Viper’s Drag
Dill Jones was a Welsh stride pianist who emigrated to the USA in 1961. This track was on an ep, one I’ve never forgotten but can only find now on YouTube. Check out the amazing ethereal bars which, to my ears, elevate this version above the original.
05. Art Tatum – Ain’t Misbehavin’
Among Art Tatum‘s inspirations were Fats Waller, who wrote this number, and Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines. Many think he had superior improvisatory skills.
06. Earl Hines – I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
This was recorded in 1971: he started his professional career in 1920 and became “an immense influence on future generations” of jazz pianists.
07. Erroll Garner – Ja Da
One of the most distinctive ‘voices’ in jazz piano history. I got to see him play in 1966 or 67, a gig I will never forget. His recordings are among Sri ‘Aga’ Hanuraga‘s favourites (as he told me while he ‘channelled’ the familiar Garner ‘voice’)
08. Count Basie & Oscar Peterson – These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)
Two favourite pianists with the Count’s rhythm section.
09. Duke Ellington – All Too Soon
The Duke and the Count were both better known for their orchestras. The only other instrument on this recording is an acoustic bass.
10. Dudley Moore Trio – Love Song From An Imaginary Musical
Dud was better known as a comedian in the UK, and a film star in the USA, yet as this recording from 1969 shows, he was a damn fine jazz pianist and composer too.
11. George Shearing – Delayed Action
Probably the best known internationally of all British jazz pianists. Like Dill Jones, he emigrated to the USA, but in 1947.
12. Oscar Peterson – I Got Rhythm
Recorded in 1951, when he was just 22, this version is new to me. It might have put my father off his piano playing pastime.
Originally posted on IndoJazzia