Archive for halloween jazz

More Halloween Jazz (Still No Tricks, Just Treats)

Posted in The Jazz Continues..., Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2013 by curtjazz
"Musically Reclined" on

“Musically Reclined” (c)

This is a sequel to my Halloween Jazz post of a couple of years ago. Though to my knowledge no jazz artist has recorded an album of tunes related to this spookiest of holidays, there are some tracks whose titles, if nothing else, lend themselves to a celebration of All Hallows Eve. Here are four more:

“Be My Monster Love” – David Murray [From Be My Monster Love – Motema Records – 2013]

The title track to saxophonist David Murray’s latest album is pure scary perfection thanks in part to the creepy and witty lyrics by Ishmael Reed that are given a letter-perfect reading by Macy Gray. Ya gotta love a tune with a line like “Suck me until I’m anemic/Until I can’t get out of bed/Until the doctors give me up for dead”. And the tune swings like mad too, which adds to the fun. Ms. Gray has said that she dabbled as a jazz singer prior to embarking on her successful pop career. She sounds right at home here and we’d like to hear more. Marc Cary is right on the money on piano and Mr. Murray, known mostly for his avant-garde work, is terrific on this fairly mainstream number.

“Dracula” – Grant Green [From Green is Beautiful – Blue Note Records – 1970]

Another performance that celebrates a groovin’ Prince of Darkness. This one is from the great guitarist’s 1970 album Green is Beautiful. By now Green was firmly entrenched in the funky sound that would dominate his latter years. Written by organist Neal Creque this track is elevated by the first-rate solos of the sidemen, including Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Claude Bartee on tenor and Emmanuel Riggins on organ. Green doesn’t solo until about three minutes into the track and his statement is way too brief but it does demonstrate that the master still had plenty left in the tank at this point in his all too brief career.

“Frankenstein” – Jackie McLean [From One Step Beyond – Blue Note Records – 1963]

Now this is what I’m talking about! McLean was starting to dabble in free jazz by this point and those experiments inform this performance. He still hasn’t broken free of the conventional boundaries but his movement toward them is strong enough to give this track a bit of a scary vibe. It’s jazz with a nice infusion of the macabre. I would have loved to have heard this cut on the soundtrack of a really hip Frankenstein movie, with maybe Lenny Bruce as The Doctor and Godfrey Cambridge as The Monster. Nice solos from McLean, trombonist Grachan Moncur III (who wrote the tune) and Bobby Hutcherson on vibes.

“Thriller” – Joey DeFrancesco [From Never Can Say Goodbye (The Music of Michael Jackson) – HighNote Records – 2010]

The most prominent jazz organist of our time dropped a tribute disc to the music of “The King of Pop” a couple of years ago. It was honestly a hit and miss affair but quite a bit of it worked, such as this track. My only quibble is that I would have perhaps liked a guest vocalist instead of Joey D on the Vincent Price “rap” but hey he was in the groove and it was his date so who was going to stop him. Besides, his organ solo is a killer, which is no surprise. A lot of fun and a Halloween no brainer.

My Halloween Jazz – A Few Treats (but no “Tricks”)

Posted in The Jazz Continues..., Video Vault with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by curtjazz

Though I admit to not being a big Halloween person, our friends at NPR’s A Blog Supreme, inspired me with a great post yesterday on Halloween Jazz.

I thought of four more tracks that I’ve always had a fondness for that fit well with the season. Some have an obvious connection and some are a bit of a stretch, but I hope that you’ll dig ’em all.

Happy Halloween!!!

 It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is number two in my book of Charlie Brown specials, behind A Charlie Brown Christmas. However Vince Guaraldi’s score for …Pumpkin is as good as his immortal work on the Christmas special, though it doesn’t get as much ink. “The Great Pumpkin Waltz” is as warm and inviting as hot cider on a chilly fall evening.

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross were making an obvious grab for a seasonal single with “Halloween Spooks”. It’s not the best of their work, but it still swings and includes some of their trademark wit.  The clip created by TurnipGirl13, includes some great shots of seasonal pumpkin carving.

I was quite surprised to find that there was no clip already on YouTube for Philly Joe Jones’ “Blues for Dracula”, so I made my own.  Philly Joe does a great Bela Lugosi impersonation standing in for his friend Lenny Bruce, whose standup routine inspired the monologue. Bruce was also supposed to do the monologue on the song, but schedules didn’t work out.  Nice solo work by Julian Priester on trombone, Johnny Griffin on tenor and Tommy Flanagan on piano are additional highlights.

Our last track is “Spooky” by Stanley Turrentine. An instrumental version of the old pop hit for Classics IV. It was a filler track on a late ’60’s Turrentine date for Blue Note. This kind of groove was right in Stan’s wheelhouse and he is all over it.

Where To Find the Tracks

“The Great Pumpkin Waltz “- CD – Charlie Brown’s Holiday Hits (Vince Guaraldi); mp3 also available

“Halloween Spooks” – CD – Hottest New Group in Jazz (Lambert, Hendricks and Ross)

“Blues for Dracula” – CD – Blues for Dracula (Philly Joe Jones); mp3 also available

“Spooky” – CD – The Lost Grooves “67 – ’70 (Blue Note Artists)