Friday, April 3, 2015

Memories of You

Memories of You
Music by: Eubie Blake
Lyrics by Andy Razaf

This song was not in my dusty sheet music box but I can only assume that the person who collected the music simply wanted to be buried with this particular song. Errol Garner, Duke Ellington, Eubie Blake are three big names but I hadn't really heard of Eubie for some reason. The Ink Spots recorded When The Swallows Come Back to Capistrano, and they also recorded Memories of You and then I remembered it was in the Gene Krupa Story film, and I have a few covers of it but didn't know the writer of the music itself was a vaudeville pianist, son of former slaves, who had an 80 year career playing piano and even a Broadway musical based on his life and music...and pounded the ivory keys with authority. So you see how the dusty music project has yielded fruit.

I think Eubie's in the musical family tree of Ray Bryant because his solo blues/ragtime recitals are exceptional. I found myself inspired by Eubie watching him play his own song in a video. There is a level of risk with improvisational piano and it takes a long time to develop the skills to do something that looks unrehearsed, but really it's a trick of instinct and it was rehearsed but not in that context. I like how jazz players will surprise themselves because they have dueling personalities, the one sitting and the one controlling their hands. And suddenly a note will pop out that is from another world, maybe a third dimension that can only be accessed once all self-awareness is surrendered. This is the mental bravery I'm trying to reach, mentally liberated so the muse plays and I'm merely a lightning rod of musical truth. But the fingers have to have some grasp of reality. I think I got a little carried away with this performance but the version I did when I was practicing for the video was sublime.

I really had to hunt for this song and fortunately I had brought so many songbooks with me that it was buried in the Jazz fake book. I must've looked at it a hundred times and didn't think to play it. But watching Eubie was an inspiration and now it's part of my repertoire.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.