There are certain jazz tunes tailor-made for listening while we’re all alone. They set the perfect mood for working in the garden, strolling along the beach or even sitting out one of those endless cross-country flights. Wherever we go classic jazz is a reliable friend to take along for the ride.
This week on Riverwalk Jazz, it's a show about losing oneself in the music—Flying Solo: A Jazz Concert for One.
We’ve hand picked a set of tunes for those times when it’s just you, your thoughts and the music. From relaxed and mellow to inspiring and energizing, our show is a concert full of tunes that reward the kind of careful listening that being alone makes possible.
One of the main creative forces behind the driving sound of the Bob Crosby Bob Cats—one of the most popular hot bands of the Swing Era—was bassist and arranger Bob Haggart.
"He could have been another George Gershwin if he'd channeled all his talents into composing," Bob Crosby effused. Eddie Miller added, "The man himself will never realize just what talents he possesses." "My Inspiration," co-written by Haggart and guitarist Nappy Lamare, was a hit for the Crosby band in 1939.
Haggart and trumpet star Yank Lawson enjoyed active musical careers well into their golden years, long after their days with the Crosby band. Both were long-time personal friends of Jim Cullum and his father and appeared often at The Landing in San Antonio. We captured an intimate duet performance by Bob and Yank for the radio series at The Landing in 1989. The tune is Charlie Chaplin’s most enduring theme from his 1936 movie Modern Times—"Smile."
Hoagy Carmichael wrote his "Washboard Blues" in 1925. At that early point in his career, like many budding jazz musicians, Hoagy was under the spell of Jazz Age cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. The extended version performed on our show by Jim and the band was arranged by John Sheridan, and remains true to the adventurous musical spirit of Bix and Hoagy. As a point of departure for the tune's lyricist, Hoagy suggested that he had an image in his mind of a "world-weary woman" doing her laundry chores.
Eddie Miller was the poll-winning star saxophone soloist of the Bob Cats. The soaring melody of his 1947 signature song "Slow Mood" belongs in a long jazz tradition of tenor sax players from Coleman Hawkins to John Coltrane who pushed the envelope of jazz melody and harmony. The full, mellow sound of Miller's tenor saxophone is lovingly recalled in our encore performance by Brian Ogilvie.
Photo credit for home page teaser image: Hoagy Carmichael at the piano. Photo courtesy The Hoagy Carmichael Collection, Indiana University.
Text based on Riverwalk Jazz script by Margaret Moos Pick ©2006