Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's all in the phrasing

Recently I came across this Louis Armstrong quote, "I don’t need words – it’s all in the phrasing."

Louis Armstrong

I've taken this quote to mean many things, but mostly how you can obtain the intent of music by the way it is played, not just by what is played.

Love can be seen as joy, tranquility, purpose, energy and sentiment. This can be displayed through holding out a note, emphasizing a syllable, punching out a line. In videos you can see performers lean forward, tilt back and dance to display this passion.

I find myself always going back to listen to Louis Armstrong, because his music makes me so happy. And what I've discovered is that the happiness I receive from his music comes from the absoluteness and intent of his phrasing. In the following video, you can feel the buoyancy Armstrong gives to the song with vibrato in his vocals and trumpet playing.

Watch Louis Armstrong play, "Mack The Knife":

This week I wanted to share some videos of jazz musicians who exude love in their playing.

It's all in the phrasing

1. Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins' big, bold sound makes it feel like his heart is exploding as he continually goes back to the melody throughout the song.

Watch Sonny Rollins play, "Falling In Love With Love":

2. Erroll Garner 

Erroll Garner's smile and ornamental flourishes make "Misty" full of love, especially with the dynamic contrast in the stride passages. 

Watch Erroll Garner play, "Misty":

3. Ella Fitzgerald

Ella's sentiment, stage presence and clear enunciation helps her connect with the audience, sharing her love of music with others. 

Watch Ella Fitzgerald sing "I've Got a Crush On You":

4. Billy Taylor and Tommy Flanagan 

This delightful duet shows how love can be displayed as complete respect and camaraderie for your bandmates. 

Watch Billy Taylor and Tommy Flanagan play, "Our Delight":

5. Duke Ellington 

Johnny Hodges takes a different approach to displaying love by creating climax points within the tranquility of the initial melody. 

Watch the Duke Ellington Orchestra play, "All Of Me":

Final Thoughts: 
Another Armstrong quote I came across was, "Jazz is played from the heart. You can even live by it. Always love it." 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Listen to Miles Davis play, "If I Were A Bell":

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Since September 2015, I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene. 

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