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Jazz Ballads This Week On Riverwalk Jazz

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Jim Cullum Jr. This week on Riverwalk Jazz, it's “Gentle Giants: The Beauty of The Jazz Ballad."

The program is distributed in the US by Public Radio International, on Sirius/XM satellite radio and can be streamed on-demand from the Riverwalk Jazz website. You can also drop in on a continuous stream of shows at the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound.

Jazz musicians, far better known as performers than composers, have turned their talents to writing jazz ballads—guitarist Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt
1910 - 1953
guitar
, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
and trumpeter Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
, to name only a few.

It was Armstrong who brought ballad singing and playing into the jazz world during his close association with Bing Crosby in Los Angeles in 1930. That year, often only weeks after Bing recorded them, Louis recorded his versions of “Body and Soul, “I'm Confessin," “One Hour Tonight" and “Mem'ries of You."

In jazz, the “ballad” style is intimate, lyrical and melodic. typically, ballads use the standard 32-bar song form and are taken at a slower, relaxed tempo. In the best jazz ballad instrumental playing, you can hear a story unfolding even without lyrics being sung. Tenor saxophonist legend Lester Young
Lester Young
Lester Young
1909 - 1959
saxophone
said that knowing the words to a song helped him “create the right mood” in playing instrumental ballads. And Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
1915 - 1998
vocalist
said he learned his vocal phrasing by listening to Tommy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey
1905 - 1956
trombone
play trombone.

This week's show features compositions by jazz musician-composers including: bassist Bob Haggart
Bob Haggart
b.1914
, guitarist Django Reinhardt, pianist Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
, cornetist Bobby Hackett
Bobby Hackett
Bobby Hackett
1915 - 1976
trumpet
and Armstrong.

Australian cornetist Bob Barnard
Bob Barnard
Bob Barnard
b.1933
, a master of the jazz ballad, is our guest. According to Bob—whose style recalls the soaring lyricism of Bobby Hackett—the ballad is “especially challenging because the player is completely exposed, both technically and emotionally.”

This week, trombonist Kenny Rupp soars on Thelonious Monk’s “'Round Midnight” and clarinetist Ron Hockett gives an affecting reading of Django Reinhart’s “Nuages,” written in Paris during the Nazi occupation of WWII. Jim Cullum Jr.
Jim Cullum Jr.
Jim Cullum Jr.
b.1941
cornet
and Bob Barnard offer their cornet duet version of Sidney Bechet’s “Si Tu Vois Ma Mere,” and they perform “Michelle,” a tune Bobby Hackett named for his granddaughter.


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