Emily – Bill Evans

“Emily” was composed by Johnny Mandel, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, as the title song for the 1964 film The Americanization of Emily. (The song wasn’t sung in the movie, which is the reason that it couldn’t be nominated for an Academy Award.) It has since been recorded by numerous artists, notably Bill Evans and Tony Bennett.  “Emily” became particularly associated with Bill Evans, who recorded it for the first time for his 1967 album Further Conversations with Myself. Here’s a bit of Evans genius with Bill on piano, Eddie Gomez on bass, and Marty Morell playing drums.

Walkin’ – Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Billy Cobham

Composition of the tune “Walkin'” is often attributed to pianist Richard Carpenter, although it is believed the real credit belongs to either Miles Davis or Gene Ammons.  Whoever actually wrote it would be blown away by Hancock, Carter and Cobham’s performance, recorded at Palazzo dei Congressie, Lugano January 26, 1983.

Evidence – Joey Alexander

I told you that piano prodigy Joey Alexander would be back.  Here he performs Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence” live at the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center … from his album ‘Joey.Monk.Live!’.  What Joey may lack in experience at 15, he more than makes up for with instinct.  Got genes?

Tangerine / In A Mellow Tone – The Great Guitars

The Great Guitars are Bucky Pizzarelli, Mundell Lowe, and John Pisano.  Here they prove that, for the great ones, groovin’ on a guitar is just like riding a bike … the ability stays with you and never gets old.  These are live performances of “Tangerine” (Top) and “In A Mellow Tone” (Bottom) at the KPLU studios in Seattle.  There may be snow on the roof but there is still a fire in the fingers!

It Might As Well Be Spring – Erroll Garner

From the 1945 movie “State Fair,”  It Might As Well Be Spring was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. It’s a tune that has been covered by many of the greatest singers through the years, but when it comes to instrumental treatments, Erroll Garner demonstrates the reason the piano was invented!

Blues Of Louisiana – Illinois Jacquet

Here are some low down blues from 1973 … featuring Illinois Jacquet (ts), Wild Bill Davis (org) and Al Bartee (d). Although pure jazz, Illinois is credited with introducing a sound later recognized as the first R&B sax solo ever recorded.  He was also one of the few jazz musicians to play bassoon.

Autumn Leaves / Pete Kelly’s Blues – Beegie Adair

The Beegie Adair Trio provides a gentle swinging version of the jazz classic “Autumn Leaves,” written by Joseph Kosma (English lyric by Johnny Mercer), live at the Nashville Jazz Workshop in Nashville, Tennessee.  Listen for the way bassist Roger Spencer throws a few bars of “Suicide Is Painless” from M*A*S*H* into his solo!

Beegie is a huge but lesser known talent who never fully received the recognition she deserves.  She has been playing piano since the age of five … originally from Kentucky, she now lives in Nashville. Her rendition of “Pete Kelly’s Blues” (one of my favorites) is the best I’ve heard outside of the movie soundtrack.

C-A-G – Billy Taylor

An original Billy Taylor composition, recorded in 2001 with Billy on piano, Chip Jackson on bass, and Steve Johns on drums.  The tune was written to show what can be done using only the title chord and its three basic notes C, A and G, masterfully manipulated throughout the song.