Thursday, September 17, 2009
Cheesy woody watermelons
There have been a number of posts on people's "cheese", their feel-good, slightly guilty listening pleasures. With me it's never been pop music, but a cd arrival today made me realize what the Nilpferd fromage equivalent could be- funky, brassy big band jazz.
Here's a 1963 Grammy winning recording of Watermelon Man by the Woody Herman big band, arranged by Nat Pierce. I especially love the deep bottom end to this arrangement, anchored by the trombones and baritone sax, along with the call and response playing of the saxes against the brass, and the on-fire rhythm section. OK, I basically love everything about it.
Recordings of funk based material by the great sixties big bands were born out of necessity, as it became increasingly harder to sell swing and hard-bop based records, but I don't consider it a sellout, rather a match made in heaven.
These types of tracks- Count Basie's Hang on Sloopy is another great example- appeal to me on two levels- on the one hand there's the sheer, technical beauty in such machine-tooled playing when a 18-odd piece band gets its chops around something this funky, on the other hand I just love the sound of it at a gut level.
Excuse me now while I do the funky nod.