New York, New York and Other Songs I Love to Hate

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by ee-san, Sep 16, 2004.

  1. The thread title is from an article by a jazz musician I read in the NY Times several years ago (can't remember who, sorry). His point was that the same old tunes kept getting requested over and over again. Lately I've been thinking of tunes that are repeatedly called at jams and wonder what others think of playing them over and over. Some I really dislike, others I like but am tired of playing so much, and still others I can play forever no matter how many times they are called. Some examples:

    Really dislike playing at all:

    Footprints (number one for me to put to rest, maybe forever)
    Little Sunflower
    Speak No Evil
    So What / Impressions
    Red Clay
    Fly Me To The Moon
    It Don't Mean a Thing
    Route 66
    Girl from Ipanema

    Like but need a rest:

    All The Things
    Just Friends
    Lullaby of Birdland
    Stolen Moments
    All Blues
    Take the A Train
    Blue Bossa

    Often repeated but I would play repeatedly:

    About a ton of other blues heads
    Out of Nowhere
    All the other Jobim tunes
    Black Orpheus
    Body and Soul

    I realize many of the tunes I dislike have been discussed in this forum. I'm not pointing any fingers, just thinking out loud. My list is much longer in each category. These are just examples.
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    hmmm. Sonny Rollins.

    I tend to think that any tune I am "tired" of playing says more about my creative ability than it does about the tune.
  3. See the thread on choice of material. Then see Keith Jarrett say, "It's not the material, it's what you do with it." I hold this opinion at this time, although I must admit I get sick of the some old thing no matter what it is. My feeling then is that it's on me to do something different. It's not really the tunes you're sick of, it's what and how you play on them and with whom you're playing them.

    Plus it's all relative. The tunes you say you like right now, try playing them 3 times a night for 5 nights a week, and then see if you still love them.

    I'll bet if you "had" to play Footprints with Chris Potter, Bill Stewart and Kevin Hayes, you'd not hate it.

    They say variety is the spice of life, and they say we are creatures of habit. Somewhere in there is the balance that works for you.

    Schlock is still schlock, though. If you're tired of playing New York, New York, find a new band. Then again, I bet if you "had" to play it with Frank Sinatra with Nelson Riddle or Billy May, you'd not hate it.
  4. Well it's mighty flattering to read the words "Sonny Rollins" seemingly in response to my post, but them's mighty big boots to fill with such tiny feet. Taking Mr. Ed's statement to an extreme conclusion, one could play one tune all night, every night, as long as the font of creativity doesn't run dry. I fear most of us don't have that much fluid so why not look for (write?) new tunes for inspiration? New people can do that too as Tree Balance states--quite a balanced reply overall and befitting the name. And, just to set the record straight, I never had to play New York, New York all that regularly but occasionally have backed up inebriated people who were trying to sing it. That's a great title for the article, though.

    I'm leaning toward a couple full sets of Tadd Dameron these days. Casbah/Out of Nowhere -- yea.
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001

    That said, I'm in favor of a "Moondance" moratorium. That "song" is in a class by itself.
  6. I agree with Ed, but still every time somebody calls Body and Soul with those Ab pedals, I could gag. When cats call a good tune with those "pre-arranged" things the've copped and insist that that's the only way they should be played makes me gag. The pedals on Someday My Prince.....Miles arrangement on Dolphin.....ETC. Why not play these tunes at different temps/keys/time signatures?
    And YES there are literally hundreds of great tunes that we've hardly touched.
  7. That's the answer. Playing over and over in the same key induces habitual fingering, habitual shifts and crossings. A pianist friend and I frequently play in oddball keys. Try Body and Soul in A natural. Suddenly, you really have to hear the tune in order to know where you're going to put your fingers.
    That's one of the benefits of working with a vocalist who puts the key where his voice sounds best. You learn to listen. If you can believe it, Paul, when I learned Waltz For Debbie, it was in 'D'. Try 'Wait Till You See Her' in 'B'.
  8. Bill loved to do tunes in sharp keys...(Foolish Heart in A). How and why did you learn Debbie in 'D'? (original 'F')
    Most of us don't think like that....that is, choosing a key for a tune because of the SOUND of it!
    Most people don't know "Wait Till You See Her' in ANY key, let alone 'B'
  9. I was working a duo in the 60's with Eddie Hazell, a guitarist and extraordinary vocalist. He put the key as high as he felt comfortable. He'd change a half step in the middle of a tune faster than you can blink an eye. He also changed key for dramatic effect at totally unexpected moments. He was as precise and as hip as Mel Torme, and a close friend of Jackie and Roy. After my first weekend, my left hand was aching, because I was never getting any open strings. It was the best training I ever got, for both my ears and my hands. I came in one night, and Eddie just started playing Debbie, expecting me to get it after 1 chorus.

    Bill Crow said Marian McPartland was always in sharp keys.

    But I know YOU know, because you're almost as old as I am. The last 16 bars are hard enough, but in B? @#$%^&*(}#+!!!!
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.

    OK, big boots. But how do you expect to get there if you are relying on something outside yourself to get you there? I mean, do what you want to. But if I feel like my playing on a tune is being stilted and hackneyed, I don't look for a different tune to play. I look for ways to get deeper into it, hear more, discover more.

    the reason that Jim Hall can do a tune like MY FUNNY VALENTINE for well over 40 something years is because music is not a static thing to him. The version off of LIVE IN BERLIN and the version off of TRIO (Steve LaSPina and Terry Clarke) don't sound the same, they refelct the growth of a player's concept and the involvement of the musicians. Like TBAL says, you get in a certain situation playing these tunes, you ain't gonna be bored.

    Kinda like Shunzo going to the Shorter rehearsal and having Wayne call FOOTPRINTS, which of course everybody knows, and then handing out music for the arrangement that was 6 pages with all kinds of diferent **** going on.

    Do what you want, be tired of what you want to be tired of. My feeling is that, in the long run, it's gonna be better to be abel to play known tunes in a new way than to play new tunes in a known way.
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Look, all I'm really trying to say is that it sounds like you feel like you're in a box and instead of trying to figure a way to get OUT of the box, you're just looking for a different colored one.

    And that maybe it would be more useful for you (and your musical life) to explore what EXACTLY it is about FOOTPRINTS that makes you say you never want to play it again? Cause it ain't like you're not going to see those chords anywhere else, right? What made the box that constrains your creativity and what do you need to do to get rid of it? Play it in 4? In 7? In Gb?

    Sure, if the tune means absolutely nothing to you and does not touch you emotionally in any way, there's no reason to do it, there's plenty of pretty tunes out there. But if the reason it's getting bagged is because you ran out of stuff to say, well how do you keep that from happening with ANY tune you choose?
  12. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Pretty much sums it up IMO. Esp the Jarrett quote and Keith still plays standards....

    To all musicians: Everytime someone requests, New York, New York... or whatever standard you have played for the umpteenth time, remind yourself that you could be digging a ditch or doing something else you are not too fond of.....

    Just be thankful that you are getting to play music at all!
  13. First, yes, thanks and continued thankfulness for the opportunity to hear, play, then try to play some more. Let's face it, as bass players, our journey of a 1000 miles began with one footprint and will continue along many more. Unless it's our band or our session, somebody else will often be calling the tune. I'm sure there will be many footprinted occasions in the future. And, yes, when that moment arrives, seize it and try to find a new voice in a shoe with a well-worn sole (soul?). Stilll, many who have responded concede that there are some great tunes out there that aren't getting played and could be new avenues for inspiration.

    What don't I like about Footprints? I feel the tune is done the same way too often and is called too often out of mental laziness rather than any desire to explore it in a new way. I've tried different ostinato patterns for which others are sometimes receptive. Many times, however, others want to hear that same old thing, just like the record. I hear you already--find new players who will look at things in new ways. Agreed.

    Marked Up and Jonesin' down there in Maui reacts similarly to Moondance (me too) and Tree Balance aludes to "schlock". I guess we all have at least one tune that gets to us, but we play it nonetheless or we go the route of William Parker (not a bad idea, by the way).