Sweet Life (vocal) – Tadd Dameron & Bernie Hanighen
This is the first vocal recording of Dameron's Sweet Life (with Minus You track) featuring the remarkable voice of Richard Allen.
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- Recording: Richard Allen - Tadd Dameron Songbook
- Recorded on: September 13, 1997
- Label: jazzleadsheets.com (JLS 1042)
- Concert Key: A-flat
- Vocal Range: Alto, E-flat3 to A-flat4 written 8va
- Style: Ballad
- Vocals - Richard Allen
- Piano - Norman Simmons
- Bass - Ron McClure
- Drums - Billy Drummond
Hanighen's lyric, like his lyric to I Remember Love is a bittersweet look at love and loss.
Richard's great vocal interpretation is available, as is an MP3 without voice, for your own use. There's also instrumental interpretations by saxophonist Houston Person and trumpeter Don Sickler. Don is playing with the same basic audio track heard here, so there's a Minus You instrumental MP3.
Tragically, shortly after the session when he was back home, Richard died suddenly. So what was a demo session became the only session.
This song was not recorded during Tadd's lifetime. Therefore, we're very fortunate that he deposited a carefully notated piano arrangement at the Copyright Office. It's in the old sheet music format: melody with lyric on a single staff, accompanied by a two-stave arranged piano part, which also contains the melody, and therefore is also Tadd's solo piano arrangement as well. It is harmonized mostly with widespread four- and five-note voicings, a Dameron specialty. Some of the short eighth-note lines that connect the longer melody notes are doubled an octave below in the left hand. The second chords of the second and fourth measures appear on beat 2, clearly following the melody rather than continuing the pattern of a chord every two beats.
Tadd's terminology for the chord symbols is at times somewhat unusual. Most notably, he uses F♯7♭5 as the symbol for the first and third measures of the bridge, even though the chord does not contain an F♯; if that note were added in the bass it would be that chord, but without it the combination of notes is the same as the tritone substitute chord C7♯5(♯9). Our Solo Piano Arrangement has this latter chord symbol notated, with F♯7♭5 written below the staff.
The other important idiosyncracy of Tadd's chord symbol nomenclature in this chart concerns the bebop usage of the m7♭5 or "half-diminished" chord. The second measure begins with a chord whose standard symbol is Am7♭5, but in Tadd's manuscript (and indicated below the staff in our version) it is Cm6. This was the early beboppers' name for this chord, a minor sixth chord with the sixth as the bass note. Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, as well as Dameron, started to experiment with this in the early '40s. There is a classic quote about this chord quality from Dizzy's autobiography, "To Be Or Not To Bop:" "Monk showed it to me, and he called it a minor-sixth chord with the sixth in the bass. Nowadays, they don't call it that. They call the sixth in the bass, the tonic, and the chord a minor seventh, flat five. What Monk called an E♭-minor sixth chord with the sixth in the bass, the guys nowadays call a C-minor seventh flat five." It's a chord substitution that comes ultimately from the older interpretation of a II-V7-I progression as IV-V7-I. In this case the IV's quality is changed from major to minor; when the second of the tonic key (I) is used as the root of this chord instead of the 4th, the result is a m7♭5 chord quality.
CLIP The vocal Minus You track is a chorus and a half long. The singer comes in after the intro, does the melody, then returns to the bridge (B and C sections) for the last half chorus of the song.
February 21, 1917 – March 8, 1965
A giant of the bebop era, Dameron had a wonderful melodic and harmonic imagination which he brought to compositions and arrangements for both small and big bands. Writing first for Harlan Leonard, Jimmy Lunceford, Count Basie and Billy Eckstine, in the late '40s Dameron started composing and arranging for Dizzy Gillespie's big band. He also recorded his own superb sextet for Blue Note Records in 1947 which featured trumpet great Fats Navarro. Read more...