Saturday, January 13, 2018

17.) Long Ago and Far Away

Song number 17 is Long Ago and Far Away by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin.  It is as far back as I go with Standards, as it is the first one I ever learned to play when I switched to a jazz piano teacher.  It was the beginning, learning what an F major seventh chord is for example, and at that time it was difficult to learn how to voice enough chords to play a song.  So once I got this one, I played it every day for probably at least 6 months.  I wonder if my parents remember it.  At the time I think they questioned my progress because of how long I played this song.  Fortunately I've learned a lot since then, so hopefully they will like this current version.  

There is no shortage of recordings of Long Ago and Far Away.  For some reason I was drawn to the Teddy Wilson recording when I began my arrangement.  I think people like to play the tune because of the sudden shift from F major to Ab major.  At least that's why I like it.  Tonal shifts like this might be characteristic of Jerome Kern.  I'd have to know why more tunes to say this with accuracy, but both his The Song Is You (recorded earlier in this project), and All The Things You Are (an extremely popular song for jazz musicians to play) contain modulations like this.  After I finished my arrangement and began practicing it, it occurred to me to play around with this tonal shift up a minor third in the solo section.  So every 16 measure I modulate up a minor third without preparing the modulation, meaning I don't play a ii-V or something similar to prepare the new key, I just go there.  (Sorry non-musicians, I realize this post has gotten a little heady.)  It was fun to play, but it also kept me on my toes.