Thursday, March 31, 2011

CD Review: JoAnn Funk: “Pick Yourself Up”

JoAnn Funk
JoAnn Funk doesn’t sing a song as much as she whispers it in your ear. Sometimes her voice is silky and warm; sometimes it’s hot; sometimes it tickles. She’s part Blossom Dearie, part Dusty Springfield, a bit Nellie McKay, a hint of Norah Jones, a dash of Stacey Kent, a splash of Diana Krall (like a smoky Scotch on ice), yet somehow all those references to other singers with breathy voices fade the more you listen to JoAnn.

At first you can’t help wondering, “Who does she sound like?” and then you realize—she sounds like herself. It’s what we want from every singer.

Her new CD, Pick Yourself Up, is only her third, after Holidays (2000) and Solo Piano (2003). Her singing has changed since Holidays, which is mostly instrumental, though we get a hint of what’s to come with “Let It Snow!” 

Since 2008, she and bassist Jeff Brueske have had a regular weekend gig at the elegant Lobby Bar in the historic Saint Paul Hotel. In her liner notes, she thanks the hotel staff for “giving us a chance to incubate jazz in the Lobby Bar, where so many of these arrangements originated.” Good things can happen when artists have the chance to play together in the same place for a long period of time.

Pick Yourself Up is a mix of familiar standards (the title track, “Girl from Ipanema,” “If I Had You,” “Two Sleepy People”) and songs heard less often. The Gershwins’ “He Loves She Loves” (also covered by Stacey Kent, whose version is more straightforward) features deep, rich arco notes on Brueske’s bass and soft brushes from Nathan Norman, whose sensitive, expressive drums throughout make this a trio recording. 

Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” was done a few years back by Madeleine Peyroux; JoAnn’s version is more inventive and seems truer to the spirit of Cohen’s original, while not sounding at all like it. Her musical pas de deux with trumpeter Greg Lewis (in his only appearance on the CD) is playful and unexpected.

Like many women jazz singers, JoAnn accompanies herself on the piano, and you realize as you listen to Pick Yourself Up how nice that must be for a singer, how ideal, to have a piano player who gives you exactly what you want.

“If I Had You” begins as a spare, sensuous bass-and-voice duet; when JoAnn adds piano (at around 1:15), it’s delicate and understated. She sings Jobim’s “Triste” in Portuguese, planting one foot firmly in the Brazilian tradition of spacious, relaxed singing, then lets her piano lead. Jeff and Nathan both shine. "Triste" is the CD's longest track and it’s delightful.

The arrangements are out-of-the-ordinary; all are by JoAnn. “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me” experiments with rhythms before settling into an easy swing. (Although, once you’ve heard it, you can detect the melody in Norman’s opening drums.) “What Is There to Say” begins with a bit of arco bass before turning into a song of pure bliss (“The dream I’ve been seeking has, practically speaking, come true… I knew in a moment contentment and home meant just you”). 

In a nod to Dearie (and probably Maurice Chevalier as well), JoAnn delivers a sassy, upbeat “Moonlight Saving Time.” Hoagy Carmichael’s “Two Sleepy People” is the perfect ending, especially if you listen to Pick Yourself Up late at night, which I highly recommend.

Jeff Brueske and JoAnn Funk in the Lobby Bar
Throughout, there’s a sense of casual, effortless, very skilled swing. All but three of the 11 songs date back to the 1920s and ’30s, which infuses Pick Yourself Up with a bouquet of timelessness. JoAnn’s arrangements are intimate and personal, and her camaraderie with Brueske and Norman makes this feel like a true collaboration. 

Even when JoAnn’s interpretations seem mannered, which they sometimes do, she wins you over with her confidence and her storytelling. You’ve probably never heard “Girl from Ipanema” sung the way she sings it. Go with the flow and you won’t be sorry.

JoAnn and Jeff (and drummer Nathan Norman) will celebrate the release of Pick Yourself Up on Saturday, April 2, in the Lobby Bar. I’ve had amazing martinis there and the chilled shrimp cocktail is classic.

The Bad Plus "On Sacred Ground: Stravinsky's Rite of Spring": Reviews of the premiere at Duke

I'm excited to hear The Bad Plus's take on Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring for two reasons. First, it's Stravinsky. Second, they're The Bad Plus. I've been listening to Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson, and Dave King live and on record since their very earliest shows at the old Dakota in Minneapolis. I've been reading their press for nearly as long, including the ranting that went on when they were signed to Columbia at a time when other jazz artists were being tossed. There was talk about TBP being a fad, a fashion, an artificial construct of the money-grubbing music biz, just another cover band. Instead, they have stayed deeply interesting, evolving and changing around a rock-solid core. They have never disappointed me, and I trust them.

So, how was the show at Duke last Saturday?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stravinsky bookends: "The Rite" at OH and the Loring

How lucky is this? The week before The Bad Plus brings its "reappraisal and rearrangement" of The Rite of Spring to the Loring Theater, the Minnesota Orchestra will perform The Rite of Spring at Orchestra Hall.

Even better, Orchestra Hall's performance is part of its popular "Inside the Classics" series, led by conductor Sarah Hicks and violist Sam Bergman. During the first part of the program, Hicks and Bergman explore the Rite, talk about it, and share insights, and the Orchestra performs musical examples. The second part is a full performance of the Rite.

If you're planning to see The Bad Plus and you sort-of know Stravinsky's original, think of the OH concert as Stravinsky school. Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson, and Dave King are all Stravinsky fans, and they have spent months studying this music. Of course, you can go to TBP and just listen and enjoy without knowing squat about Stravinsky, but I promise you'll enjoy it more with some background in your brain and the orchestral version fresh in your ears.

Thanks to composer Bill Kempe for telling me about the OH performance.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Press release for The Bad Plus Stravinsky show at the Loring

The Bad Plus by Cameron Wittig

Bonnie Marshall of the American Composers Forum is in Durham, NC this weekend for the premiere of this event at Duke University. I'll get the lowdown when she returns. Meanwhile:

Press Release: The Bad Plus comes to Loring Theater with
“Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring”
For Immediate Release

The Bad Plus follows the March 26 world premiere of “On Sacred Ground: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring” with two performances at Loring Theater May 20 and 21, 2011.

In the band’s ten years together, bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Ethan Iverson and drummer Dave King have become one of the most talked about groups in jazz today thanks to uncompromising artistic vision and dazzling chops. Over the course of nine albums, the band became famous for its spellbinding covers of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the Pixies’ “Velouria” and Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” not to mention a deep catalog of original compositions written by each band member. Now the trio returns with its most audacious move yet: “On Sacred Ground: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.”

This week's jazz picks for Minneapolis-St. Paul

Are you in your car or near a radio at 8:30 CST on Friday mornings? Tune to KBEM to hear me and Mr. Jones—Jazz 88 "Morning Show" host Ed Jones—talk about these events and more. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the Web

Friday: Parker Paisley at the Aster Café

Park Evans
Located on Main Street on the Mississippi riverfront (the oldest street in Minneapolis), the Aster Café is a happening live music venue. The intriguing musical mix (pop, rock, indie, folk, Jim Walsh’s Mad Ripple Hootenanny) includes the occasional jazz show. James Buckley, Food Team Trio, Axis Mundi, Todd Clouser, Firebell, East Side, Maud Hixson, Rhonda Laurie, and Zacc Harris have all played there; Patty and the Buttons do the Sunday brunches.

Tonight it’s a new group, Parker Paisley, featuring Park Evans on guitar, Brandon Wozniak on tenor sax, Pete Hennig on drums, and Adam Wozniak on upright bass. They promise “daring, new, and original music” and will soon hit the studio to record their first CD. Since their Facebook invite includes a photo of actress Parker Posey (Best of Show, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman), I’m guessing she inspired the name. And I’d take a chance on any group led by Park Evans.

9 p.m., Aster Café ($5).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology vs. Putumayo Presents Jazz

It wouldn’t be a fair fight. Put in the same ring, the 10,000-pound gorilla JAZZ: The Smithsonian Anthology (let’s call it JTSA) would pummel little Putumayo Presents Jazz (PPJ). 

Each, briefly:

• JTSA: 6 CDs, 111 tracks spanning the years 1899–2003, 200-page booklet. Compiled by an executive committee of five jazz scholars including John Edward Hasse and Dan Morgenstern, aided by an advisory panel of 42. A “jazz appreciation course in a box.” SRP $107.98.

• PPJ: 1 CD, 12 tracks, most recorded in the 1950s, liner notes by WWOZ (New Orleans) DJ Joel Dinerstein. The press release cites label founder Dan Storper’s “increased exposure to jazz since moving to New Orleans.” Apparently Storper listens to Dinerstein’s show a lot. It reminded him of “how much I still loved the songs of my parents’ generation.” SRP $14.98.

Putumayo World Music has always seemed like a personal label to me, led by the interests of its founder. Since Storper’s relocation to NOLA in 2003, the label has produced several jazz collections including New Orleans, Jazz Around the World, Latin Jazz, Women of Jazz, and the most recent, Jazz, due out May 3.

New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff does not much like JTSA. In his review published March 17, he asks, “How could such a righteous cultural product, full of so many sublime parts, feel so cumulatively limp?” Then: “What’s missing is its desire to be any more than a list, rather than an argument or a thesis.” And: “The new Smithsonian anthology is fair minded, which is to say strangely anonymous. Though the essays are signed, one can’t be sure whether the signers chose the tracks, and you won’t find out how the anthologizers, individually or as a body, really feel about anything in particular.”

I’ll probably buy JTSA anyway, sooner or later, and stack it on top of my copy of The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz (1987 edition), about which Ratliff has far kinder things to say. JTSA seems like the sort of reference that belongs in a music library, the equivalent of a music dictionary or encyclopedia.

I doubt that Ratliff will review the Putumayo collection, which I’ve been listening to for the past few days and like very much. Although Putumayo World Music is a success in a time when labels are becoming anachronisms, it’s not taken seriously by most music critics.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New U.S. jazz stamp due out March 26

It's cool. It's colorful. It has a retro feel and a "Forever" designation, meaning it will still be usable if (make that when) postage increases. We'll be at the PO on Saturday, buying a bunch.

Artist Paul Rogers tells the story of how he came to design a jazz stamp for the U.S. Postal Service and who his influences were. "The only requirements [U.S. Postal Service art director] Howard [Paine] gave me was that the letters J-A-Z-Z- appear in the design and that no recognizable performer be depicted," Rogers writes. He shares some early sketches and the three designs he submitted to the USPS.

The official release ceremony will be held in New Orleans.

Here's a brief history of jazz-themed stamps, courtesy of JazzTimes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This week's jazz picks for Minneapolis-St. Paul

Are you in your car or near a radio at 8:30 CST on Friday mornings? Tune to KBEM to hear me and Mr. Jones—Jazz 88 "Morning Show" host Ed Jones—talk about these events and more. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the Web

Friday: Ginger and Bobby Commodore Birthday Party at the Dakota

March 11 was Ginger's birthday, and Bobby's was March 4. Celebrate with Ginger's powerful vocals, Bobby's peerless drums, and their potent mix of jazz, soul, and R&B. I heard Ginger just last week, singing with Moore by Four. When she lets loose, hold on to the cutlery. With Lee Blaske on piano, Mark Weisberg on bass.

8 p.m. Friday, March 18, Dakota ($10).

Marc Ribot on "Silent Movies," scoring for films, and Brother Jack McDuff

Guitarist Marc Ribot has been a sideman for Wilson Pickett, Elvis Costello, Brother Jack McDuff, Tom Waits (with whom he performed earlier this week, at Waits’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), and many others. You can hear him on Raising Sand, the dreamy, atmospheric 2009 Grammy winner (Album of the Year, Record of the Year, etc.) by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.

If you follow jazz, especially jazz guitar, you know about his years with the Lounge Lizards, his bands Shrek, Los Cubanos Postizos, Spiritual Unity (which performs music by Albert Ayler and includes Ayler’s former bassist Henry Grimes), Sun Ship (a Coltrane project), and Ceramic Dog, and his recordings for John Zorn’s label Tzadik.

On Saturday, Ribot brings one of his current projects to the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis: a live solo guitar score, performed to a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s silent film The Kid (1921). He’s out with so many projects and bands, traveling to so many places, that looking at his tour schedule makes me dizzy.

I caught up with him by phone at the San Francisco airport on Thursday morning, March 17. The line stayed open and we kept talking until he boarded the plane and began looking for space in the overhead bins.

“A while ago,” Ribot said at the start of our conversation, “I hadn’t imagined that at this point in my life I would be running around this much. I had imagined there would be something called record royalties.”

PLE: A lot of jazz musicians are playing live music to silent films. Recently Dave Douglas (Spark of Being with filmmaker Bill Morrison), Wycliffe Gordon (Body and Soul), Wynton Marsalis (Louis), Kelly Rossum (Jekyll and Hyde), and now there’s Bill Frisell’s new project with Morrison (The Great Flood). John Zorn has done this for years. He brought his band Electric Masada to Minneapolis in 2006 and played live music to experimental American films from the Walker’s collection.

Marc Ribot: I was part of the band that night.

PLE: I thought you probably were. What brought you to this type of project?

Marc Ribot: I started thinking about it years ago, in the early 1990s, when there was a series at the Knitting Factory called “Loud Music with Silent Films.” That was also around the time of [Bill] Frisell’s Buster Keaton project. I scored a Soviet science fiction movie called Aelita: Queen of Mars. At another point, I did something totally illegal. I wanted to make a political commentary on [a major motion picture Ribot prefers not to name]. So I re-edited it into a 17-minute version and turned off the sound. My version was less edifying and mercifully shorter. One of my big discoveries: They’re all silent movies if you turn off the sound.

Friday, March 11, 2011

This week’s jazz picks for Minneapolis-St. Paul

Are you in your car or near a radio at 8:30 CST on Friday mornings? Tune to KBEM to hear me and Mr. Jones—Jazz 88 "Morning Show" host Ed Jones—talk about these events and more. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the Web

Saturday: JazzMN Orchestra with Guitarist Mike Stern at the Hopkins HS Performing Arts Center

Mike Stern by Clay Patrick McBride
So Finland has a zillion orchestras. Big whoop. We’ve got a bazillion big bands. The Cedar Avenue Big Band, the Acme Jazz Company, the Nova Jazz Orchestra, the Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra, the Bend in the River Big Band, Tim Patrick and His Blue Eyes Band, Beasley’s Big Band, the KCGO Big Band, the Century Jazz Ensemble, the Bellagala Big Band. And all the big bands at colleges and high schools. Let’s high-five ourselves.

And let’s get out to see what’s probably the best-known big band in the Twin Cities: the JazzMN Orchestra. Now in its twelfth year, JazzMN features many of the Twin Cities’ top jazz musicians, an annual season of several concerts, and a smartly chosen roster of guest performers, usually including an area vocalist and a nationally-known instrumentalist. Saturday’s concert features Debbie Duncan on voice and Mike Stern on guitar. Stern has played with Miles Davis, Michael Brecker, the Yellowjackets, and Blood, Sweat & Tears. He’s a five-time Grammy nominee and a master of jazz and jazz fusion. I’ve had a peek at the set list, which includes several Mike Stern originals in arrangements by the Danish Radio Big Band.

7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12, Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center ($27-$31, student rush $10). Tickets online or call 1-866-811-4111. The Minnetonka High School Jazz Ensemble will give a pre-concert performance starting at 6:45.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Concert review: Glen David Andrews disappoints at the Dakota

When: Thursday, March 3, 2011 • Where: DakotaWho: Glen David Andrews, trombone and vocals; Kyle Roussel, keyboards; Barry Stevens, bass; Jermal Watson, drums; Eric Gardner, trumpet; and area musicians including Dan Eikmeier on trumpet and Darren Sterud on trombone, both members of Davina and the Vagabonds

GDA, Dan Eikmeier, Eric Gardner: Huh?
If you’ve been here before, you know that I very rarely write negative reviews. Time is short, and there are too many enjoyable, enlightening shows to write about. But Glen David Andrews surprised me last Thursday, and not in a good way.

I first saw Andrews last July, when he played for the Dakota Street Fest. Driven indoors by a sudden thunderstorm, he burned the house down. He was fantastic, a consummate entertainer. Here’s a review

No wonder the Dakota brought him back; no wonder I showed up for the Thursday show. Wish I’d gone on Wednesday instead. According to people I’ve talked with who were there, and Strib writer Jon Bream’s blog posting, Wednesday’s show was a party. (Bream’s only cavil was that Glen David Andrews needs to find a better, more memorable stage name, like his cousin Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, did.)

Thursday never quite pulled together. Maybe it’s because Thursday had an opening act, Davina and the Vagabonds, and that messed with Andrews’ flow. (I’m not complaining about Davina and her group; they were terrific, if a bit ear-splitting.) Maybe Thursday’s crowd was different, not so willing to wave white napkins or scream on command or second-line around the club. Or maybe Andrews was simply off his game.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Northrop Jazz Series is postponed

For those who have been wondering about the status of the Northrop Jazz Series at the University of Minnesota, this letter, which went out to series patrons on Wednesday (mine arrived today), brings unpleasant but not entirely unexpected news: The series has been postponed. 

Sent by Ben Johnson, Director, Northrop Concerts and Lectures, it links the series’ deferment to the closing of Northrop for much-needed renovations.

Here is the letter in its entirety:
March 2, 2011

Dear Northrop Jazz Patrons,

Thank you for your generous support of the Northrop Jazz Series in previous seasons. Northrop Concerts and Lectures is the University of Minnesota’s official presenting organization offering world-class performing arts for the past 92 years.

Since the 1940s, we have presented important jazz artists and ensembles, and for the past 34 years, the Northrop Jazz Series has been an integral part of jazz tradition in the Twin Cities. With presentations in Northrop Auditorium, Ted Mann Concert Hall, the Campus Club, Walker Art Center, Summer at Northrop, and other venues, we’ve remained committed [to] the presentation of this art form.

With the closing of Northrop for revitalization in Winter 2011, Northrop Concerts and lectures will be postponing its jazz series in the near term until plans for the new building have been finalized and additional funding has been secured for this programmatic initiative.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Live jazz in Minneapolis-St. Paul: This week's picks

Are you in your car or near a radio at 8:30 CST on Friday mornings? Tune to KBEM to hear me and Mr. Jones—Jazz 88 "Morning Show" host Ed Jones—talk about these events and more. 88.5 FM in the Twin Cities, streaming live on the Web

Friday: Tyondai Braxton and the World Music Orchestra at the Walker
Tyondai Braxton by Grace Villamil
This is less about jazz music, more about jazz genes: Tyondai Braxton is the son of avant-garde jazz composer/multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton. Tyondai went the route of alternative prog-rock (the band Battles) and high-tech solo artistry, layering loops and effects. He takes a giant step into contemporary classical with Central Market, his latest CD (Warp, 2009). 

The album was created in the studio, mostly by Braxton working alone; the performance at the Walker will feature the 30-member Wordless Music Orchestra, which means that Braxton has had to translate his original solo efforts into a score, or something resembling a score. The conservatory-trained composer drew on Stravinsky, Bernard Hermann, Messiaen, Ligeti, and other moderns when creating his strange, beautiful, playful, serious music. 

I hear piano, buzzing, whistling, birds, strings, drums, brass, flute, and guitar, and that’s just in the first track, “Opening Bell.” Braxton and the orchestra will also perform works by Caleb Burhans, Louis Andriessen, and John Adams.

8 p.m. Friday, March 4, McGuire Theater, Walker Art Center, $25 ($21 WAC members). Tickets online or call 612-375-7600.

Why can't we have listening parties?

Whenever Jazz at Lincoln Center announces another of its free listening parties, I turn green and grit my teeth in frustration that I can't be there.

Here's the latest, from a press release that just arrived in my email box:
Free Listening Party with Bassist/Composer Ben Allison April 6 
In time for Jazz Appreciation Month, Jazz at Lincoln Center hosts its eighth Listening Party of the 2010-11 season with bassist and composer Ben Allison as he offers a sneak preview of his newest release, Action-Refraction (Palmetto Records, to be released on April 12), with Jazz at Lincoln Center's Ken Druker. 

Concert preview: The George Maurer Group at the Dakota

George Maurer
A performance by any of George Maurer’s bands—the 8-piece George Maurer Group, the 20-piece Big Band, the trio, quartet, or quintet—is a guaranteed good time. There’s music and banter, storytelling and jokes, and although Maurer is the leader and linchpin, he’s not the star; that role shifts from moment to moment, song to song. It’s a gathering of friends and equals, a family on stage.

The music, much of it written and arranged by Maurer and other band members, ranges from bop to pop, jazz to blues, gospel to musical theater, ballet to settings for poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. Some tunes are serious and moving; some are silly, laugh-out-loud playful. Best advice: Expect the unexpected and enjoy.

On Saturday night, the George Maurer Group will play two sets starting at 8 p.m. Earlier that day, from 4:30 until 6, they’ll play for a live audience (a large and enthusiastic one, they hope) and a camera crew.

Pioneer Public Television, the PBS affiliate serving western and southern Minnesota, received Legacy funding to produce half-hour specials on six Minnesota artists. Eric Olson, now the station’s executive producer, remembered composer and performer Maurer from his days with the KARE 11 Saturday Morning show, which featured Maurer’s group every Christmas.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Concert review: The Roni Ben-Hur Quartet at the St. Paul JCC

From the Department of Better Late than Never

When: Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011 • Where: St. Paul JCCWho: Roni Ben-Hur, guitar; Ryan Cohan, piano; Santi Debriano, bass; Steve Williams, drums 

Roni Ben-Hur
Can you be a jazz venue if you present jazz once a year? If you’re the St. Paul Jewish Community Center, I vote yes.

Each year around this time, Jeffrey Richman, who heads the Center’s Jewish Cultural Arts department, brings in an important Israeli jazz artist or group. 

Last year, it was flutist and composer Mattan Klein and his quartet, with Manu Koch on piano, Gustavo Amarante on bass, and Yuval Lion on drums. The year before, pianist Omer Klein and his trio, bassist Omer Avital and drummer Ziv Ravitz. And the year before, bassist Avishai Cohen, with pianist Shai Maestro. I wasn’t yet hip to the JCC and missed that one.

This year, we were treated to the guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and his quartet: Ryan Cohan on piano, Santi Debriano on bass, Steve Williams on drums. 

Cohan is a well-known Chicago pianist; Debriano, born in Panama, has played with a diverse group of jazz stars ranging from Larry Coryell to Cecil Taylor; Williams spent 25 years with Shirley Horn. 

Ben-Hur was on the front of the wave that brought many Israeli jazz musicians to NYC; he moved here in 1985 to study with pianist Barry Harris. Since then, he has become one of the jazz elite, leading his own bands, performing and recording with artists including Rufus Reid, Ronnie Mathews, Slide Hampton, Clark Terry, Lewis Nash, and many others.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kurt Elling explains vocalese

What is vocalese, anyway? Here's how Kurt Elling describes it, as heard on Jamie Cullum's radio program for BBC Radio 2.  (The link will be live through March 8, 2011. Jamie introduces Kurt at around 19:50.)
Vocalese is a subset of lyric writing and poetry that is unique to the jazz idiom. Vocalese is created in this way: One falls in love with an instrumental recording--a saxophone solo, piano solo, or bass solo. One transcribes the solo. One writes a lyric to fit the contours of that which was improvised for the recording. Then one learns to sing that melody as the new melody for the composition. So, if Bird played [Kurt scats a few bars from "Billie's Bounce"] and then Eddie Jefferson wrote: 
I've overlooked so many things/Through the years, through my tears, through my fears/And then I went and opened my eyes... 
And it proceeds like that. And it's a joy, and it's very difficult, and few have attempted it, Jon Hendricks being the greatest of jazz lyricists, Eddie Jefferson, Annie Ross, King Pleasure. A few people after then have done some very, very high quality work, and it's one of the things that I like to keep alive. It could only have happened with the advent of recorded sound, because before that time, if somebody improvised something, it was just lost to the wind, and it was gone. So it's an exciting field because there's a lot of open terrain.
Keep listening to hear performances of "Nature Boy," "Samurai Cowboy," and "Moonlight Serenade," recorded live in the BBC's Maida Vale studios. These live recordings are special.  As much as I enjoy Elling's many recordings, including the very polished new release The Gate, he is most magical, most convincing, and warmest live.