Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Play Me That Jazzy Number

Matt and I had free XM radio for over a year because of a generous friend who was unable to use it at the time.  The extended loan ended this June when she finished school and moved back to town.  There is a channel on XM called 40's on 4 which is dedicated to music from, you guessed it, the 1940's.  I was completely enraptured with this music.  If I was in charge of channel selection there was little chance I'd pick anything else.  The singers from that era have such unique, soulful, emotive voices.  The lyrics and tempo are nearly always happy and upbeat, sometimes bordering on laughably sugar-sweet.  (Here I will say that I take that to be the case because there was a war going on and cheery music was needed to lift the spirits.  That is purely speculation on my part though.)  I found it impossible to not be a great mood when those tunes were playing. 

One of the things that really separates this type of music in my mind is the use of horns.  It all has a swingy, big band kind of feel to it and little to no guitar.  Being of the folk, bluegrass, and rock persuasion, where the focus is almost always on guitar and other stringed instruments, this was quite different to my ear.  And I liked it a whole lot.

Turns out, even cows like the horns!   Or are at least quite curious about it!  Check out this video I found via the blog Practical Parsimony where the cows all gather round for their own private performance.  Pretty neat, don't you think?
It IS pretty magical music if you ask me.

So after three months of no XM, and thus no 40's on 4, you can also then understand my utter delight at discovering the complete collection of Ken Burns' Jazz CDs for check out at my library.  This stuff even predates the 40's on 4 era going back to the early 1920's in some cases.  It is completely amazing the level of talent and diversity of style found in this collection...even more amazing that quality recordings from the time still exist!  In some cases they aren't even sure who was playing.  It has been lost through the years. The liner notes say "possibly So-and-So on saxophone" in some cases.  Some time I'm going to have to work up to watching the Ken Burns' Jazz documentary as well.  I am sure it is fascinating and would only add to the depth of my appreciation for the artists and the genre, but it is quite a long series and I have a short attention span when it comes to videos.  In the meantime I will just continue tapping my toes and dancing around the kitchen listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Count Bassie, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, Charles Mingus, and the like.

2 comments:

  1. Since I was born in 1946, I remember music of the era. It is all so mellow to me. I love it. I am glad you enjoyed the cows enjoyment as much as I did. Some of this stuff is even better played on my windup Victrola, made in 1917. Okay, maybe not...lol.

    Have you ever heard Rod Stewart's American Songbook? It is all mellow. My favorite is the first cd. It is the only music that I can put on my cd and be able to fall asleep at night. I have used that cd for years to chase away insomnia.Any other sounds other than white noise, keep me awake all night.

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  2. You seriously have a windup Victrola!?!

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