There are so many occasions to show gratitude. And yet, there are millions of times when I do not express it enough. Thank you! Thank you all for a great year!
Thanks again to Jim Allchin Ron Abel Michael Amante Ruslan Agababayev Yitzy Bald Andreas Bärtels Amir Ben-Haim Johnny Berman Brenda Balasz-Beylek Amir Benhaim Dori Ben Ze’ev Ron Bertolet Yerachmiel Bigun Justin “Just Blaze” Smith Tal B.R. Yanki Briskman Yochi Briskman Suri Brody Walter & Blue tha Engineer at Brown Sugar Studios Jean Carter Teddy Charles Shlomi Cohen Shloime Saul Stern Dachs Dad Barry Dallman Nydia Davila Def Jam Phil DeGorter Don Downs David Eastman Yoni Eliav Nir Erez Marissa Famiglietti Mike Ficco & the Long Island Jazz Orchestra Freilach Orchestra Ian Freitor Avremi G. Jacob Garchik Linda Garrity Charlie Gordon Mark A. Gatz Brian Gelfand Gal Gershovsky Moshe Ginsberg Tony Gorruso Zino Groenewegen Cliff Haywood Mendy Hershkowitz Zuben Mehta & the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Brian J. of the Pimps of Joytime Laura Jeanne Joseph Kaminski Kris Kasanova Terry Keevil Karen Kelly Charles Kiger Ron Ben-Haim Ray Kilday Israel Lamm Eli Laufer Moshe Laufer Gideon Levine Gabriella Lewis Ken Lewis Lex à Her Majesty’s Sound Kjetil Linnes Shahar Livne Steve Lynch The Maccabeats Maybach Music Bonnie McAlvin Stone McEwan Jeremy Miloszewicz Marco Meister Miami Boys Choir Mom Tony Eli Lishinsky Tony Montalbo Gershy Moskowitz Danielle Morandini Bizu Riki Mullu Avi Newmark Shai Nissenboim OdessMama Marco Panascia Yehoshua Pasternak Yehuda Piamente Michael Pruzansky Kenny Rampton Leib Reigler Mathias Roska Mona Rosenblum Rick Ross Dalit Segal Yosef Chaim Shwekey Lipa Schmeltzer Naftali Schnitzler Jerry Sokolov Soulfarm StadiumRed Studios Stewart Taylor Yosi Teaberg Dave Trigg Vignir Vigfusson Murry R.Kahn and the West Islip Symphony Wily Bo Walker Kanye West and Avrum Zamist!
Vibraphone Grandmaster Teddy Charles has been in retirement from jazz recording and performance for more years than he was active. Even so, he remains one of the very best vibraphonists in the world. I have to suppose this is the essence of what it means means to be a legend, and also what it means to be very old which Teddy is at age 86.
But let me back up and explain how I came to meet Teddy Charles. For musician this is hard to admit – I knew very little about Mr. Charles or jazz itself until late last summer.
To be honest I did not know who Teddy Charles was until Steve Witthoft, happened to invite me to a Wednesday night jam at Teddy’s house. I met Steve while playing in a local big band. He is an excellent trombone player and more about him in a future post. If it weren’t for his invitation, I would still be “jazz ignorant” about Teddy.
When I mentioned the name to Bo he flipped out. Turns out Bo heard about Teddy and was a great fan.
The real inspiration for YDKWLI happened when my two sons and I were over at Teddy’s house helping him archive his life’s work.
A job well done!
The original music for The Strut, by composer and saxophonist Benny Golson, who is a year younger than Teddy. The number eventually debuted as “Strut Time” on the 1958 album The Other Side of Benny Golson.
“Unburying the piano” would be another accurate way to describe that afternoon. Anyway, at some point the four of us came upon an unmarked cardboard box. Inside? Pure treasure.
Original folio for 1955 Screen Blues
Now some words about seeing the music in the box, and how holding the original paper and seeing the pencil marks brought you closer to feeling. Closer to understanding the nature of Jazz. You passed your inspiration on in a follow-up phone call to Bo
Jazz Hall of fame vibraphonist Teddy Charles played with Charlie Parker 60 years ago. He wrote the arrangement to Miles Davis’s “Nature Boy”, and the list of people he recorded with sounds like a “who’s-who” of Jazz and Blues hall of fame. Coltrane, Mingus, Roach, Cannonball Adderly… drop a name any name… In 1964 he played with Aretha Franklin on “Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington”, that is close to 50 years ago! His biggest album was going to be “Russia Goes Jazz (Teddy Charles)“, United Artists UAL 3365. He hired the best of the best musicians of the time for this project: Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams, Eric Dolphy, Hall Overton to name a few. Alas, in an a unfortunate turn of events an unknown group released its debut album the same day he released this album. Under the same label, no less. Their name? “The beatles” (!)
For many years he was first on call for playing the vibes here in New York. This fell out of favor when synthesizers went big during the late 70′s and early 80′s. He was also busy sailing his historic scooner, the “Mary E” - a 75 foot authentic clipper built in 1906. In 2008 he began a come-back with help from many friends and colleagues including Chris Byars and many others. Apparently he outlived all the people he thought would go before him, such as his manager and many of his friends. I suspect that it is his sense of humor that keeps him going strong at 83 years old.
I have been playing and learning a heck of a lot from him for a while now. While producing “You don’t know what love is” for English blues phenomenon Wily Bo Walker and his quintet, I thought that it would be an opportunity for Teddy to shine again with the magic touch of a true vibraphone master. These with fake B3, fake pianos, fake brass, fake strings, and fake slide whistles, I thought it could really be great if we used a real vibraphone. Bo was excited to play with a true giant, and this turned out as a huge success! As of now (3/2/2011), The track, is now topping the US, UK and Global Jazz download charts on MySpace.com.
For nostalgia’s sake, here is Teddy playing the vibes with Aretha Franklin’s 1964 recording of “Unforgettable”. The song was recorded as part of her tribute to Diana Washington. After the release of this tribute album, Columbia drifted away from their early jazz dreams for Aretha:
The more I listen to him sing You Don’t Know What Love Is, the more I understand the subtle interplay between melancholy and passion, the yin/yang at the heart of this Jazz Standard. Earlier this morning I had been waiting for the kids to come downstairs so I could take them to school. I hit play on You Don’t Know What Love Is while flipping through an old Forbes magazine, and at 1 minute :30, I became aware of having been transported into an intense state of relaxation and mindfulness. Was that me getting all sentimental over a Verizon ad on page 7 featuring a father and son telephone reunion?
That’s what a good song does; it takes over, and the listener welcomes the transcendence.
I hope we’ve been able to bring something new and fresh to Don Raye and Gene De Paul’s masterpiece. You can purchase this track (Wily Bo Walker Quintet/Heartbeat Records) on iTunes and Amazon.com. However, we are offering it on the above downloadable link for a limited time. Right click and downloadYou Don’t Know What Love Is onto your iPod or Zune or whatever you’ve got. Give it a listen. Put it on the mixed tape for your Valentine. ♥ But most importantly, please let us know what you think in the comments section below.
A lot of work went into the melancholy cover art for the Wily Bo Walker Quintet’s “You Don’t Know What Love Is” single. How does it look? Singer Wily Bo Walker, Vibraphone Legend Teddy Charles and I are extremely pleased with the song itself and a link to it will follow in the next blog post.
Sepia goodness …
Most music lovers probably know this standard via Billie Holiday’s 1958 rendition, but the song was actually written in November, 1941 by Don Raye (1909 – 1985) with lyrics by Gene De Paul (1919-1988) for the Abbott and Costello film Keep ‘Em Flying.
Abbott and Costello?!
A soulful duo …
The bombing of Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941 kids!) occurred in between the film’s start and completion, and I wonder if the attack set the stage to ‘wake up’ the film’s editors to the absurdity of featuring this raw passionate song in a slapstick comedy film. “You Don’t Know What Love Is” was left on the cutting room floor just before Keep ‘Em Flying’s release.
Passionate and Haunting
At the time the actress and singer Carol Bruce (1917-2007) was naturally disappointed. Who can blame her? Here’s a wonderful Carol Bruce YouTube clip showcasing her singing style. Larry Clinton and Carol Bruce. Look closely -you might recognize her from later work on the sitcom WKRP In Cincinnati.
I read somewhere that of all the De Paul and Raye songs and instrumentals, “You Don’t Know What Love Is” remains their most appreciated and most recorded.