Ursula Andress - the 1st 007 James Bond Girl (Dr. No 1962) and Burt Bacharach's inspiration for 'The Look of Love' "The Look of Love" was released today, January 29, in 1967 - 54 years ago! It’s a popular song composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and originally sung by English pop singer Dusty Springfield, which appeared in the 1967 spoof James Bond film Casino Royale (definitely not to be confused with the 2006 version with Daniel Craig.) It received a Best Song nomination in the 1968 Academy Awards and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008. According to Bacharach, the melody was inspired by watching sex symbol Ursula Andress in an early cut of the film. I agree with Bacharach that the song works great simply as a stand-alone atmospheric instrumental, as you’ll soon hear. WARNING! Music theory discussion ahead! Proceed with caution! Thoughts on jazz improvisation. Talking about instrumentals, many of the songs that I’ve been recording are pretty ‘straight’ without much melodic improvisation. However, in the second verse of this recording of ‘The Look of Love’, I’m improvising using a jazz theory that I’ve recently discovered by George Russell called the ‘Lydian Chromatic Concept of [...]
“Them There Eyes” is a jazz song written by Maceo Pinkard, Doris Tauber, and William Tracey that was published in 1930. One of the early recorded versions was performed by Louis Armstrong in 1931. This is yet another song made famous by sultry Billie Holiday, who recorded her version in 1939 for Vocalion Records. I know I used at least one of her turns of phrase in my simple version. I always have thought that this song would be a great background for a cosmetic eyelid commercial. Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. Try listening to it with a good set of headphones! It sounds better than any piano I've ever owned!!
It’s a “Sin to Tell a Lie” is a 1936 popular song written by Billy Mayhew and popularized by the great Fats Waller. Incidentally, it was said that shaking hands with Fats was like grabbing a bunch of bananas. This song was pretty popular: there are currently over 100 recorded versions of it! Oh yeah, I wanted to tell you how I learned this song. A few weeks ago I was diving deep on YouTube on one of my favorite artists – guitarist virtuoso Steve Goodman – and I came across a live version of Goodman doing this song. It reminded me of how much a guitar prodigy he was and how I first came across him sometime in the 1970s at the Philadelphia Folk Festival (but that’s another story.). Goodman’s version was so over the top amazing that I jumped up and immediately went over to the keyboard to figure it out. I didn’t think anyone could top Goodman’s energy on this song, but then I listened to Fats Waller’s version. Now I don’t know. If you’ve read this far, you probably have at least a passing interest in music. Why don’t you check out both versions on YouTube (make sure [...]
“Pennies from Heaven” is a 1936 popular song with music by Arthur Johnston and lyrics by Johnny Burke. It was recorded by Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Doris Day, Jimmy Dorsey & his Orchestra, Tony Bennett, Dinah Washington, and many others. Interesting story: I once found myself in Stevie Wonder’s studio (that’s another story) and he asked me to play something on the piano. Well, the first thing that happened to come to mind was this song, so I somewhat nervously sat down and started playing. Suddenly, Stevie nudged me over a little on the bench and sat down on my right. I continued to comp chords on the left, and he started doing a jazz improvisation on the melody. What really blew me away (besides playing with Stevie!) was that he was doing a complex and intricate jazz improvisation with his left hand!! That’s probably why he sticks to music and I stick to surgery! Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. Try listening to it with a good [...]
“Ain’t She Sweet” is a song composed by Milton Ager, with lyrics by Jack Yellen. It was published in 1927 and typified the Roaring Twenties and ‘Tin Pan Alley’ songs. Ager wrote “Ain’t She Sweet” for his daughter. Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. Try listening to it with a good set of headphones! It sounds better than any piano I've ever owned!!
“Basin Street Blues" is a song often performed by Dixieland jazz bands, written by Spencer Williams (words and music) in 1928 and first recorded that year by Louis Armstrong. (Williams also wrote the music for “I Ain’t Got Nobody”, popularized by Louis Prima.) It’s one of the greatest of all blues songs. Named after the main street of the famous Storyville district, the red-light district of early 20th-century New Orleans, north of the French Quarter. It became a red light district in 1897. Notable recordings: Lous Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, and Fats Waller. Sam Cooke, Dr. John, Willie Nelson, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis. This performance is dedicated to my friend Todd B, with whom I’ve shared many good times in the Crescent City. Enjoy, Dr. Weiss Related post: Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans P.S. For anyone wanting to read more about this quintessential jazz song: Pianist and composer Spencer Williams titled this number after the street where he lived as a youngster with his aunt. But the house he lived in was Mahogany Hall, probably the most famous brothel of Storyville. Williams composed the tune in 1928, eleven years after Storyville [...]
In my opinion, Chick Corea is one of the most influential and technically proficient jazz pianists of our generation. He has certainly influenced me greatly ever since I read one of his quotes in a course I took at Berkeley College of Jazz in Boston many years ago. The main advice that I always remember: “Play only what you hear.” I’ve chosen to share ‘Crystal Silence’ with you because of its haunting beauty and its unique and unforgettable chord changes and melody. Also because it’s one of the few Chick Corea compositions that I have the ability to play :-) This version is dedicated to Michelle U. Enjoy, Dr. Weiss Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. Try listening to it with a good set of headphones! It sounds better than any piano I've ever owned!!
”I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" is an American popular song and jazz standard by Jimmy McHugh (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics). [Two other songs that they wrote together: "I'm in the Mood for Love” and "On the Sunny Side of the Street”.] The idea behind the song came during a stroll Fields and McHugh were taking one evening down Fifth Avenue; they saw a young couple window-shopping at Tiffany's. McHugh and Fields understood that the couple did not have the resources to buy jewelry from Tiffany's, but nevertheless they drew closer to them. It was then they heard the man say, "Gee, honey I'd like to get you a sparkler like that, but right now, i can't give you nothin' but love!" Immediately upon hearing this, they came up with "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" within an hour! In the 100-most recorded songs from 1890 to 1954, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" (1928) is No. 24! The most recent popular recording is by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in their 2014 collaborative jazz album Cheek to Cheek. Once again, I’ve distilled the essence of the song into less than 60 seconds. [...]
"St. Louis Blues" is a popular American song composed by W. C. Handy in the blues style and published in September 11, 1914. It was one of the first blues songs to succeed as a pop song and remains a fundamental part of jazz musicians' repertoire. Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Bessie Smith, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, and the Boston Pops Orchestra are among the artists who have recorded it. This arrangement is close to the way it was played by Earl Hines, one of the most influential jazz pianists ever. Although I had heard the name, until recently I didn’t know much about Hines. I didn’t know that … OK, there is too much to say here about Hines or Handy, for that matter - just go to Wikipedia if you’re interested. However, a few quotes: the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (a member of Hines's big band, along with sax player Charlie Parker) wrote "the modern piano came from Earl Hines." Erroll Garner said, "When you talk about greatness, you talk about Art Tatum and Earl Hines”. Count Basie said that Hines was "the greatest piano player in the world". As a matter of fact, he does sound pretty [...]
On This Day (July 9) 90 years ago in 1929, "Fats" Waller’s classic “Ain't Misbehavin'" was recorded in New York City at the height of the ‘Roaring twenties’ for a Broadway musical comedy. Waller said the song was written while "lodging" in prison (for an alimony violation), and that is why he was not "misbehaving". Interestingly, in the play, Louis Armstrong played "Ain't Misbehavin'" in a trumpet solo, and although this was initially slated only to be a reprise of the opening song, Armstrong's performance was so well-received that he was asked to climb out of the orchestra pit and play the piece on stage. Anyway, “Fats Waller” has always been one of my favorites. His innovations in the Harlem stride style laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano. His best-known compositions, "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose", have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. I’ve really gotten a lot of joy over the years playing this song and I hope you enjoy it also. To qualify for a Weiss Music Minute it was necessary to speed it up a bit, but it still feels right, maybe a little on the fast side. But hey, it was at [...]