Saturday, May 14, 2016

1.) Everything Happens To Me

Hello!  I'm very excited to share the first post of the 24 Standards project!  The song is Everything Happens To Me by Matt Dennis (music) and Tom Adair (lyrics).  I chose to begin with this one because the investigation of it led me to discover the collected recordings of Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.  I was checking it out last summer while teaching at the New York Summer Music Festival.  The collection is full of great songs, some of which you'll hear during the course of this project.  And...early Frank!  He was great throughout his career, but the early recordings have a tenderness to them.  I really love it.  I think the collection is an important influence on this project, and Sinatra in general has been a great source for discovering songs that I like.

I was first interested in this tune because of the repeated-note nature of the melody.  You can get pretty imaginative with movement under a repeated-note melody.  It's a concept that I first noticed in Radiohead actually - the track Everything In It's Right Place off of Kid A.  I guess I've been mildy fascinated with the concept ever since hearing that song.  Many of my own original compositions explore the idea, especially the ones written closely after Kid A was released.  When I first began fooling around with some standards last summer, I had Everything Happens To Me in mind because of the repeated notes that the melody features.  

This is a commonly recorded song with plenty of solo piano versions.  Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans immediately come to mind.  I listened to both of those quite a lot years ago, especially the Monk.  I listened again to the Bill Evans recording last summer, but quickly decided that I should avoid it because it could become too direct of an influence for my arrangement of this tune.  

I learned via Wikipedia that the song was composed for Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, which is how I discovered the Frank/Tommy collection I mentioned above.   I listened to that recording quite a bit.  I also recently looked up a recording of the song's composer Matt Dennis playing and singing.  It's worth checking out.  He adds a comical second chorus.  It's on YouTube. 

I'm happy to get this inaugural recording posted because it sets the tone for what you can expect.  Of course there's no telling where the project will go, but at least we have a start.  For those of you who have followed my career, you haven't heard much of this side of me, and in reflecting on it I think there are two reasons why that's the case.  First, as I studied jazz, I was continually led to the next expansion of the music.  My interests and studies naturally took more toward avant-garde music, and so did the friends I was playing with.  Second, after graduating from Manhattan School of Music, and entering the real world as a musician, the talent of the straight ahead jazz players around me seemed impossible to compete with.  I decided to present myself more as an experimental musician.  Now it wasn't all as calculated as that sounds.  I was and still am genuinely interested in playing that way.  There were times when I really rejected straight ahead jazz - wasn't interested in it, felt it all had been done before, etc.  But there now seems to be a challenge of honesty.  Can I let you see this side of my musical identity?  A side that has been incubating, but hasn't seen much light of day outside of my home.  You might say, "Of course you can," but that's not as easy for me to say.  I'm sure I'll be discussing this more in future posts, but I can say happily that I'm pretty confident in this recording.  I'm working with ideas that have been done before.  But we're all individuals with different experiences.  Maybe finding one's voice, and finding the meaning in classic forms, is easier as one ages.  

7 comments:

  1. Fascinating idea & lovely interpretation - thank you1 Should be quite a year!

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    1. Thank you Richard. Yes, I'm looking forward to the year ahead, but am also a little fearful of the challenge. I hope I can keep it up!

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  2. Thanks for sharing this Jesse. I love your take on the tune. Looking forward to future recordings. Glad to hear of all your success since UWEC!

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    1. Thanks Foster! Fertile soil at UWEC.

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  3. Love the inner voices, Jesse! Beautiful touch too

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