1. waltz for debby
After such a long silence, I feel like I should have some profound thoughts, but instead I offer a simple bit of musical discovery.
Last week I had a hankering for Bill Evans. When I first started listening to music in high school, he was one of the jazz musicians that I connected with right away. I loved his spare, impressionistic lines and his amazing sense of harmony. One of the songs that I remember strongly was Evans’ “Waltz for Debby,” as I had a friend that liked to play it repeatedly.
So I started listening to the 1961 album. I was doing schoolwork, so I wasn’t actively listening, then this tune hit me in the ear:
2. flamenco sketches
Hearing that opening sequence of bass notes and chords startled me because it was identical to the opening of one of my favorite pieces of music ever, “Flamenco Sketches” from Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (actually, my favorite is the alternate take included in the special anniversary re-release of the album, but that sounds absurdly music douchey).
This is one of those pieces that I feel like I could talk about forever and yet have no words at all. There’s a crazy, cosmological balance in the relationship between the bass and the piano. Miles’ entrance is like a cry, with so much sadness and vulnerability. Cannonball Adderly’s solo is like a sermon. And John Coltrane is so fucking charming.
Ashley Kahn’s Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece notes that the track is called “Flamenco Sketches” because nothing was planned out in advance except the introduction–the thing that keeps capturing my ear–and the modal harmonic regions. I was floored to learn that the introduction predates Waltz for Debby and Kind of Blue.
3. “piece piece” and “some other time”
According to Kahn’s book, the first time that Evan’s recorded this chord progression was in a song called “Piece Piece:”
Which was itself a cover of Leonard Bernstein’s “Some Other Time,” written for the musical On The Town. Below, I’ve embedded a truly bizarre version of that song (sorry for the bad audio quality):
Lenny’s voice could scare Leonard Cohen. He makes Tom Waits sound like a boy soprano.
Trio in Triptych
1. waltz for debby