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Sound Ideas #43 - Piano, Weather, and the Donald
Welcome to an hour of piano players, the weather, and Donald Fagen. Thanks for listening in.
Artist Track Album
Lee Morgan Boy, What a Night The Sidewinder
Ben Sidran Piano Players Old Songs for the New Depression
Horace Silver Mo' Joe The Cape Verdean Blues
Bud Powell Borderick The Scene Changes
Bill Evans Come Rain or Come Shine Portrait in Jazz
Ken Nordine Looks Like It's Going to Rain Word Jazz
Dave Frishberg Blizzard of Lies Live at Vine Street
Donald Fagen Florida Room Kamakiriad
Woody Herman Band I've Got the News Chick, Donald, Walter, and Woodrow
Steely Dan Everything Must Go Everything Must Go
Dexter Gordon Who Can I Turn to (When Nobody Needs Me)? Gettin' Around

Our first set begins with a lesser known cut from a classic album featuring Barry Harris on the piano. The Sidewinder album was a big hit for Lee Morgan and Blue Note but as with just about all of the magic from that label in that era, it was an ensemble of talent that frequently appeared across each members albums. Yet Barry never released a date under his leadership on Blue Note, he was most prolific as a leader on Riverside at that time.

Set two pays homage to dozens of piano greats courtesy of Ben Sidran's song stylings, (and he's no slouch on the piano either), the hard bop master Horace Silver, and the bebop pianist, Bud Powell. Bud's influence on the piano cannot be underestimated just as Horace's influence on jazz composition (and the piano too!)

Two other piano players along with a jazz speaker give us our third set focused on the perennial question of the weather and its impact on our daily lives. The 1960s harmonic genius of Bill Evans is evident from one of his most successful recordings, Ken Nordine ponders as only he can with a jazz flourish, and Dave Frishberg's twist on the weather reminds us of how the "weather" is more than just the temperature outside.

Donald Fagen and his most noted accomplice, Walter Becker, have spent the decades crossing over the boundaries of jazz, rock, soul, and pop. In particular since the late 1970s they have managed to maintain the artistic and compositional excellence of jazz while capitalizing on the broader appeal of rock and blue-eyed soul. In many cases Donald's compositions exhibit all the telltale signs of jazz while explicitly avoiding the expected if not clichéd aspects of jazz composition. In the fourth set, we hear from Donald on a solo album, Woody Herman's interpretation of a Steely Dan classic, and a later cut from Steely Dan with a true to form sardonic reflection of life. Oh yeah, Donald plays the piano (and other keyboards) too.

Closing out the hour we listen to another lesser heard cut, this time from Dexter Gordon's Gettin' Around, which also features Barry Harris on the piano.

The study of jazz piano is more than 12 notes and 88 keys. The piano is one of the few places where you can study all of the parts of any jazz performance. Melody, check. Harmony, no problem, Rhythm, Roger. It's no wonder that piano players had have such an impact on jazz, and it is indeed a rare occasion when the piano or other keyboard is not present in the jazz context. As the quote often attributed to Jon Hendricks goes, "A pianist would do great things once you gave him the music. A piano player would do great things before you gave him the music."