Monday, August 1, 2011

'...with orchestral accompaniment.'

Accompanying a vocalist by definition attracts minimal attention, and yet it requires many of the most challenging skills in jazz. One must listen constantly, select notes with great care and work hard to support the mood a singer is creating.

It's an enjoyable endeavour, however. The cooperative aspects of music are often the most rewarding, for musicians and audiences alike, and this is certainly the case with vocal accompaniment.

Here are four examples of superb accompanying, beginning with Cyrus St. Clair (tuba) and Ed Allen (cornet) as they perfectly match Bessie Smith's passionate despair on Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out:

Next up is the lovely Lee Wiley, who is blessed with the remarkable cornettist Bobby Hackett as her helper:

Eddie Lang's guitar accompaniment graces hundreds of records from the 1920s and 30s, and here he is on film with Bing Crosby:

And of course Lester Young on tenor sax, accompanying Billie Holiday. Holiday's mother claimed she couldn't tell the difference between her daughter's voice and Young's sax from the next room, and their collaborations are justifiably famous:


Chris Albertson said...

Thank you for bringing out Bessie Smith's beautiful and definitive rendering of "Nobody Knows You..." Though sad, it brightened my New York morning.

As an aside, let me note that Ed Allen was working in a taxi dance joint on West 14th St. when I hired him for a 1961 Prestige session ("Uptown and Lowdown").

rhythmoftheday said...

And thanks for all your hard work, Chris! In the past few hours I've played at least two LPs you produced AND listened to an interview you conducted with Lester Young.

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