My love affair with Jazz has been long and memorable. From my teenage years as an avid reader and subscriber of Down Beat magazine, my first trip to a concert in Boston for a night of The Boston Globe Jazz Festival in 1969, to the purchase of the first of many Jazz albums – Blues Roots by the Dave Brubeck Trio featuring Gerry Mulligan – I have found Jazz to be a constant source of great joy and listening pleasure.
Eventually, when my Folk/Rock guitar skills were in need of a boost, I set about trying to learn a Jazz song. The first one I succeeded at being able to play and sing along with was “Swinging On A Star” by Johnny Burke & James Van Heusen.
Over the years, I added several other Jazz numbers to my repertoire, including:
“When Sunny Gets Blue” by Jack Segal & Marvin Fisher
“Ain’t Misbehavin'” (inspired by Leon Redbone) by Fats Waller, Harry Brooks & Andy Razaf
“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” by Dorothy Fields & Jimmy McHugh
“‘Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-Ness If I Do” (inspired by Taj Mahal) by Porter Grainger & Everett Robbins
“Take Love Easy” (inspired by Joe Pass & Ella Fitzgerald) by Duke Ellington & John LaTouche.
In the process of learning these extraordinary songs and performing them over and over – and I would gleefully slip one of these chestnuts in between the Van Morrison, James Taylor, Lennon & McCartney and Marshall Crenshaw songs that were the standards for a bar set back in the day – I became fluent with a new vocabulary of many decidedly not-Folkie-or-Rock & Roll-ish guitar chords. These new chords required the mastering of many challenging left-hand fingerings and then combining them in fascinating, harmonically-rich but difficult-to-memorize chord progressions.
Among the many glorious new chords were ones with names such as Gmaj7, C7sus4, Eb diminished 7 and, my personnal favorite, F#m7b5. (That reads: F sharp minor seven flat five.)
Before too long, I tried using some of these new harmonies in a song of my own. In January of 1985, I put the finishing touches to “Dancin’ To The Beat (Of Your Heart),” a swinging little love song that was, and still is, great fun to play and sing.
I recorded and released “Dancin’ To The Beat (Of Your Heart)” on my first, full-length, self-produced, cassette-tape-only album, Anytime, in 1988. (For more detailed information on Anytime, please visit the archives and read my post of April 1, 2012.)
For (I hope) your listening pleasure, and as part of my sporadic-but-continuing effort to eventually post all of the songs from Anytime, here it is!
Click on the blue link below and, as my son would say, “Wait for it!”
Accompanying me on that track was Jim Howe, a friend, colleague and one of the best and most legendary Jazz bassists in New Hampshire, if not New England.
As Jim always used to sign off his letters and promotional material: “Jazz lives!”