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  1. #1

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    So, we've had my daughter's birthday (9/28) and her engagement party (9/29), visiting family members just left, I still haven't finished my take on last month's practical standard (Laura) ...

    Life, right?

    Anyway, our standard for Oct 2018 will be Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn, 1933-1949).

    Background:
    Jazz Standards Songs and Instrumentals (Lush Life)

    Very interesting digging into the background, here. Hard to believe the lyrics and such melodic and harmonic devices were originally crafted (or at least begun) by a 16-year old.

    If you're checking YouTube, be sure to view Billy himself playing this, and the Strayhorn/Kay Davis version from a Duke Ellington concert. An unexpected surprise: Check the Queen Latifah recording (I'm serious!).

    Maybe not such a great vehicle for improvisation, but I am enjoying studying this one.

    Also, start practicing -- Cherokee is coming!

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    M-ster -

    Ah ha, there you are. Hope your family stuff went okay. But I'm definitely looking forward to your Laura. Take as long as you like. Please!

    Well, I got impatient, peeked at the list, and... here's one I prepared earlier. Ho hum :-)


  4. #3

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    This is probably the definitive version, straight from the horse's mouth.

    I must say I have my reservations about this song. Frankly, without the lyrics it's a pretty bland tune, especially the last two sections and especially the last one.

    It doesn't surprise me that he wrote it when he was sixteen. It's very intense, there are too many chords, rather oddly organised, and the notes at the end are haphazard and clustered too closely together.

    It's far better as a song than an instrumental. In this Strayhorn version at least he's got the audience smiling along with him, there's some humour in it. And, let's face it, it needs humour otherwise it's about a descent into self-pitying debauchery... sorry!

    Coltrane did his best with it and that's something at least.


  5. #4

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    There is my version with vocal/Dorota/.
    It was recorded 11 years ago...:-) I used Ibanez semi-hollow as-200/1982/ straight to the studio mixer.
    Best
    Kris
    Box

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    This is probably the definitive version ... rather oddly organised ...
    Are you thinking 7, 7, 14, 12, 12 is an odd form?

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-ster View Post
    Are you thinking 7, 7, 14, 12, 12 is an odd form?
    Well, just between you and me, I haven't the slightest idea what that means :-)

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Well, just between you and me, I haven't the slightest idea what that means :-)
    Sorry, I took your comment about the tune being "oddly organized" as meaning you looked at the form. The numbers in my post are the number of bars in each section of the tune: 7 + 7 + 14 + 12 + 12.

    I think that many consider the first 28 bars to be the "verse" and the 12-bar bit starting with "Life is lonely again ..." to be the "chorus." Definitely an oddity.

  9. #8

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    Oh, I see. There is that, although I suspect he perhaps had the lyrics first and then broke the story down into three bits. Probably noodled on the piano while he did it. The whole thing's basically chromatic, it sort of creeps up and then creeps back down again.

    But who knows? :-)

  10. #9

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    Ha, Cherokee!
    Then i am afraid i ll drop Lush Life for this month, a bit out of my whatever zone.

    By the way, i once heard Frank Sinatra on the radio, getting lost in this song.

    Hans

  11. #10

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    M-ster -

    The thing is that, as a poem, the lyrics read fine; rhymes and syllables with an extra line at the end, etc. I guess if you put it to music it is going to look odd, as you say.

    I used to visit all the very gay places
    Those come what may places
    Where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life
    To get the feel of life
    From jazz and cocktails


    He was only sixteen...

    There's a song in that

  12. #11
    This tune is a singer's dream. Ella' s version is one of her best.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    This tune is a singer's dream.
    I've heard it described as a singer's nightmare! Have you tried it?

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I've heard it described as a singer's nightmare! Have you tried it?
    Yeah . Like stardust, it's pretty difficult to sing away from the instrument.

    But it really is a vocal tune. The diction itself is really beautiful, beyond the lyric meaning or rhyming etc. Pure genius regardless, but at 16?

  15. #14

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    And now for something completely different...


  16. #15

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    Jim Cohen, You play really well. I really enjoyed it.

  17. #16

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    Thanks, Gramps.

  18. #17

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    Jazz on the pedal steel sounds great, it reminds me of a record I have by Lenny Breau and Buddy Emmons.

    I wondered why there are 2 necks so I just looked it up, it sounds very complicated!

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Jazz on the pedal steel sounds great, it reminds me of a record I have by Lenny Breau and Buddy Emmons.
    I was fortunate that Buddy Emmons was one of my teachers (not that I'm fit to carry his case). He passed a few years ago. Miss that guy.

    (We now return you to your regularly-scheduled program...)
    Last edited by jasaco; 10-06-2018 at 02:30 PM.

  20. #19

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    Hey, I didn't mean to kill the thread...

  21. #20
    Here's another take on Lush Life from Phineas Newborn! While it's played on piano, Mr Newborn adds so many creative twists and turns that I'm certainly hearing some cool new ideas. Plus, he plays Ravel in the intro. Hope you enjoy!


  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasaco View Post
    Hey, I didn't mean to kill the thread...
    It wasn't you. the Practical Standards threads have been on life support all summer.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gramps View Post
    ... the Practical Standards threads have been on life support all summer.
    Hmm, maybe ... Should I start calling out the folks that opine but don't post any music?

    (I know you've posted some audio before, Gramps. That's not necessarily directed at you.)

  24. #23

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    No reflection on anyone especially you M-ster. Maybe it's the busy summer season, I don't know.

    There was a while when the Practical Standards posts were the hot thread in the forum from my perspective. (I think it corresponded with the winter months but could be wrong)

    I just didn't want Jasaco to think that his steel guitar renditions had any effect on the posts.

  25. #24
    Lush life is really an "arrangement" tune in my opinion. Probably going to end up being more of a solo guitar vehicle than anything. I got a couple of decent "almost" takes the other night , but I need to get it past "almost".

  26. #25

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    I can't get a handle on it at all solo-wise. I've done several versions already (you know me) and binned all of them.

    I think you're right, solo guitar is maybe the best way. If one can get it sorted.

    I might just take the tune, reharmonise it, and play it as a ballad. Dammit, something's got to give!

  27. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by jasaco View Post
    And now for something completely different...
    Great stuff. Thanks for posting!

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    ... I might just take the tune, reharmonise it, and play it as a ballad.
    Er ... it *is* a ballad, isn't it?

  29. #28

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    Well, sort of, isn't it? It's sort of in two or three sections with different feels to them... I thought I'd just simplify the chords and lump the whole thing together and bang it out.

    Like I said, I've already done it a few times (normally) and can't make the solo work. Playing the tune's okay but... I'm not even sure the pros do a very good job with it. I find myself drifting off.

    Perhaps I need to be sixteen, gay, and given to frequenting adult sad-sack dives

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    ... Perhaps I need to be sixteen, gay, and given to frequenting adult sad-sack dives
    I think I can get to that last bit ...

  31. #30

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    i don't think you killed the thread, Mr. Cohen...
    but you certainly raised the bar, at least for me.
    Thank you for sharing that.
    Last edited by dogletnoir; 10-14-2018 at 11:04 AM.

  32. #31

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    I've deleted the other solo versions I posted because I don't think they were very good. They were mostly getting round the chords using chord fragments and arps. When what we really want is lines.

    But I've found a way to do it. I've only done the refrain because of the length. It's done in bossa because I thought it suited.


  33. #32

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    jasaco -

    Actually it does the 'drunk' effect brilliantly, just what it needs

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    jasaco -

    Actually it does the 'drunk' effect brilliantly, just what it needs
    Well, I guess I'll take that as a compliment, though any such effect was unintentional.

  35. #34

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    It's what the song's about :-)

    'The melody is over relatively complex chord changes, compared to many jazz standards, with chromatic movement and modulations, which evoke a dreamlike state and the dissolute spirit characteristic of the so-called lush life.'

    Lush Life (jazz song) - Wikipedia

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    This tune is a singer's dream. Ella' s version is one of her best.
    Indeed ! I have Ella and also a superb version by Sarah Vaughan. As an instrumental , I labored over the Joe Pass version (from Virtuoso 4) even with the help of a transcription from the now defunct , Guitar 1 magazine !
    I saw it as a challenge and managed to its completion , but allow a week to pass and it's back to the drawing board !

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by gtrplrfla View Post
    Indeed !
    It's probably only a dream when it's been mastered* and we hear it on a good recording. Getting there might be more difficult.

    Frank Sinatra tried to record it and gave up. True :-)

    * I mean by the singer, not a master recording.

  38. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    It's probably only a dream when it's been mastered* and we hear it on a good recording. Getting there might be more difficult.

    Frank Sinatra tried to record it and gave up. True :-)

    * I mean by the singer, not a master recording.
    Right. Unlike, every OTHER song which sounds great when recorded in a crap way. Only THIS one requires being played well...

  39. #38

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    I love Sarah Vaughan’s Pablo recording. I saw her doing this song in 1981, the audience were spellbound, an unforgettable experience.


  40. #39

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    Here’s a photo of Sarah Vaughan I took at that concert.

    October 2018 - Lush Life-scan304-jpg
    Last edited by grahambop; 10-20-2018 at 06:45 PM.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    Right. Unlike, every OTHER song which sounds great when recorded in a crap way. Only THIS one requires being played well...
    Well, it is definitely difficult to sing accurately. I think that's generally acknowledged.

    Playing it instrumentally would be easier because... well, those are the notes. But finding a half-decent improvisation is hard, no question. Chet Baker, for instance, definitely ducked it and let the piano do it. I'd love to know what he thought of it all - Chet, that is.



    Personally I keep posting various versions and then deleting them (you may have noticed). The whole thing just has a weird effect on me for some reason. I could speculate, but we should really keep the forum clean
    Last edited by ragman1; 10-20-2018 at 07:50 PM.

  42. #41

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    By the way, I don't know if you saw this:

    Novelty Jazz tunes

    I posted it as a novelty song! Maybe trying to turn it into something serious is a mistake although it's been very successfully done.

    There's a site somewhere about it. There was another one where almost all the comments (I think by musicians) echoed what I'd been thinking myself, that really the song isn't much without the lyrics, that it is essentially a song rather than an instrumental.
    Last edited by ragman1; 10-21-2018 at 04:11 AM.

  43. #42

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    This is the site I was talking about:

    Lush Life by Billy Strayhorn - Songfacts

  44. #43

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  45. #44

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    '... Kaplan writes. “In the end (it) was an art song rather than a ballad.” '

    I think that's it. Art songs are as Strayhorn originally composed and played it, as voice and piano accompaniment only. Novelty might be too strong but there's no way (in my view) that it can be sung as a serious heartfelt ballad like Laura or something.

    (I did think of dropping it down to C and singing it, I could do it - with lots of joking so an imperfect vocal delivery wouldn't matter at all... but I haven't. You should be grateful!)

    BUT I suppose it can be played instrumentally as such because it's just a tune and up till the chorus it's quite a good tune. After that I think it gets dull and too meshed together. So it's better with the lyrics, basically.

    Anyway, is anyone going to try it? M-ster? Come on, I bet someone can make something of it!
    Last edited by ragman1; 10-22-2018 at 11:11 AM.

  46. #45

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    I'm getting nowhere with it. Needs words.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  47. #46

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    Except if you play a pedal steel, maybe. That worked quite well.

    Or the saw


  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    BUT I suppose it can be played instrumentally as such because it's just a tune and up till the chorus it's quite a good tune. After that I think it gets dull and too meshed together. So it's better with the lyrics, basically.

    Anyway, is anyone going to try it? M-ster? Come on, I bet someone can make something of it!
    What’s all the fuss, it’s just a tune, it can be played. If I get time I’ll do it as a solo version, I have played it like that before.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    ... Anyway, is anyone going to try it? M-ster? Come on, I bet someone can make something of it!
    It's coming. I was working on it last night. I don't think it's a great improvisational vehicle because of its form and the long "verse" - which is a necessary part of the composition, to me. But, I've enjoyed studying it and working on it.

  50. #49

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    Always look forward to your versions, M-ster, as you know.

    But, far more important is the question of whether M-ster stands for Mister or Monster. I guess we'll never know :-)

  51. #50

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    I might go against my way of doing things completely and treat this one like a classical piece.

    I know Bucky did that kinda, with some tunes...he said some tunes you just gotta play straight, because they're perfect as is.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington