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
, 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.