Thursday, May 20, 2010

Featuring Marilyn Monroes Jazz Pianist Hank Jones - Arts and Music Headlines 18 May 2010

*** Listen to the dean of jazz pianists, from the generation of Coltrane, who accompanied Marilyn Monroe on her birthday song to President Kennedy

From Denny: Another jazz great has left planet Earth and passed his music on to the next generation to enjoy, interpret and play. Ever since I went to college at LSU Baton Rouge I've been saturated with the Louisiana culture of rhythm and blues and jazz. As students we often day tripped to New Orleans to hear local jazz legends just like Hank Jones.

It was heartening to see how New Orleans revered even their aging musicians. There, in those smokey night clubs, large tall doors thrown open to the Louisiana humid air, overhead fans beating in time to the music, were 85 year old men tinkling the ivories at such a fast pace their fingers were a blur in motion. And the merriment as they played was contagious, rippling throughout the night club, people swaying as their minds danced in their chairs. Those musicians and their smooth renditions of traditional songs were soothing and thoughtful, calming the patrons when stroking the night to a close. As tourists and locals alike filtered out onto the streets, promises of "next time" lingered as a warm musical scent.

Hank Jones was as famous for his silky touch as he was his musical pedigree. The man had a musical resume never to be found again. He played with the greats in the jazz genre like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Benny Goodman. His brothers played with John Coltrane and Count Basie.

Remember those black and white news clips of actress Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday" to President Kennedy? It was Hank Jones who accompanied her on piano. Even if you didn't follow his music or career you now realize you saw him on the news.

From NPR: In a 2005 interview with host Terry Gross, he described what it was like to accompany Monroe during her performance at Madison Square Garden.

"She did 16 bars: eight bars of 'Happy Birthday to You' and eight bars of 'Thanks for the Memories,' " he said. "So in 16 bars, we rehearsed eight hours. So I think that's something like a half-hour for a bar of music. She was very nervous and upset. She wasn't used to that kind of thing. And, I guess, who wouldn't be nervous singing "Happy Birthday" to the president?"

Check out some of his music, courtesy of National Public Radio. May the dean of jazz pianists rest in peace. He gave a lot to this world and we say thank you!

*** ALSO over at The Social Poets blog to experience a New Orleans jazz night:

Jazz Music poem - Libations Friday 21 May 2010

In Memorium: Hank Jones On Piano Jazz (NPR)

In a career that spans seven decades, Hank Jones has worked with everyone who's anyone in jazz, including Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Billie Holiday. On Sunday night, Jones died after a brief illness. He was 91......

Remembering Hank Jones, 'The Dean Of Jazz Pianists' (NPR)

Hank Jones, whom critic Whitney Balliett once called "the dean of jazz pianists," died Sunday. He was 91.

Jones was the last surviving brother in one of the most remarkable families in jazz history. His brother Elvin played with John Coltrane and became an influential jazz drummer. His younger brother Thad played trumpet and was a member of the Count Basie Orchestra before forming his own ensemble, The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.

Hank, the oldest of the brothers and the first to leave home, toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic, recorded with Charlie Parker, accompanied Ella Fitzgerald and worked for many years as the house pianist at CBS. When Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday" to President Kennedy in 1962, it was Jones who accompanied her on the piano........

*** ALSO over at The Social Poets blog to experience a New Orleans jazz night:

Jazz Music poem - Libations Friday 21 May 2010

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