Archive for March 17, 2009

Spring is Here

Posted in Bute Park, Jazz with tags on March 17, 2009 by telescoper

All of a sudden it seems like Spring. We had a little foretaste a few weeks ago, but this was followed by a return into chilly miserable weather for a while. That even seemed to dampen the spirits of the blackbird that was waking me up and he’s left me alone for a while.

Now, though, it’s sunny and warm and the forecast is set fair until the weekend. My walk through Bute Park takes me past hosts of daffodils, appropriately enough for Wales. The trees are covered once more in green leaves. It’s just a pity there’s another week or so before the Easter holiday so I can’t spend more time outside or make use of the weather to get some necessary house repairs done, such as new window frames and repointing the chimney.

Still, I shouldn’t get too depressed. Spring has come early anyway. The clocks don’t go forward for another couple of weeks.

And if the weather wasn’t enough, my weekly veggie box arrived this morning with further evidence of springtime. After a steady supply of winter vegetables (such as swedes and parsnips), things have suddenly changed. The selection of seasonal vegetables I got today includes lettuce and tomatoes (for the first time in months), as well as Red Russian Kale and Cauliflower.

Oh, and the blackbird was back this morning too.

I haven’t put any music up for a while, so I hope you enjoy the following clip from Youtube which seems to fit the season. Errol Garner was a brilliant musician who invented a very distinctive style of Jazz piano entirely of his own. Many attempted to copy him, but nobody managed to get it quite right. He perfected a style of playing that involved using his left hand to keep a solid rhythm while his right hand usually played behind the beat created by his left. In other hands this lagging effect would probably have made the music drag, but in his it produced a wonderful sense of tension that he always somehow managed to resolve.

On slower numbers, such as most famous hit, Misty,
he tended to be elaborately decorative, something which I don’t like at all. But on the faster ones he could rattle along producing wonderful ad-libbed melodies like no other Jazz pianist, putting in little musical jokes here and there at the same time.

His other trademark was to play lengthy disguised out-of-tempo introductions that kept the audience guessing as to what tune was coming next and what speed it would be played at. I always thought his bass player and drummer were probably in the dark too, until he broke into tempo and played the melody, usually to spontaneous applause and broad grins all round. You can see that happening on this clip, around 2 minutes in, when at last he plays the theme of It Might as Well be Spring, a tune which was a big hit for Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto in the 1960s.

If you’re interested in hearing Errol Garner at his absolute best, you have to get the classic Concert By the Sea, recorded live in Carmel, California in 1955, which is a joy to listen to over and over again. But in the meantime, here is in 1964.