Archives: July 2022

  • Harris Simon and Charlie Shavers, plus more Booker Little

    Two very different composers are now represented for the first time on pianist Harris Simon and trumpeter Charlie Shavers. Both happen to have the same birthday, August 3rd (though Shavers’ is sometimes given as September 3rd), and both were born and raised in New York. Besides that there isn’t very much in common between them.

    Harris Simon, who plays harmonica as well as piano, is a longtime collaborator of's Don Sickler. The three songs of his now up on come from his album “Tuesday Night At Cary Street." Cary’s Treat, a lyrical 3/4 song, and the impressionistic ballad Cornerstone in particular showcase Simon’s use of inventive, colorful harmonies. Found And Lost is a beautiful, wistful Latin song that Simon also recorded on an earlier album, “Short Conversation." A solo piano arrangement is available from this one, with a recording by the late, amazing pianist Kenny Drew, Jr.

    Born exactly 36 years before Simon, Charlie Shavers was one of the most exciting trumpet soloists of the swing era. As a composer he’s best known for Undecided, which he first recorded at the age of 18; it quickly became a jazz standard. Three Shavers songs are now on, all originally recorded in the ‘50s on sessions where Shavers was a sideman. Buffalo Joe, originally from a Louis Bellson recording, and Overtime, from a Gene Krupa recording, are in a snappy swing-to-bop style that was Shavers’ trademark. Krupa also played Shavers’ Meddle My Minor, a simpler more swing-style song, at a session that was Shavers’ only recorded collaboration with tenorman Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis.

    We also now have more titles by another great trumpeter, Booker Little. These are the three original compositions from his first album as a leader, “Booker Little 4 Plus Max Roach.” Dungeon Waltz and the medium-up swingers Rounder’s Mood and Jewel’s Tempo all have busy, challenging melodies with all the depth and drama that defined Booker’s style. All three have two-horn arrangements with second parts and condensed scores. Trumpet solo transcriptions of Booker are available for Rounder’s Mood and Jewel’s Tempo. Dungeon Waltz has a trumpet melody part with a detailed transcription of Booker’s articulation: an in-depth look at how he interpreted his own melody.

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