Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Making A Recommendation

I might have lied in my profile. I can also play "Blue Bossa," "All of Me," and "All The Things You Are" on the piano. I started taking lessons last October with a jazz piano student at McGill. He first taught me the blues, so I play that a lot, in C.

I don't have much discipline when it comes to learning keys out of C. "Blue Bossa" is in C minor and "All of Me" is in C major. "All The Things You Are" is in A flat major, so that's a point of pride for me. Along with the B flat blues, I also plan to learn "Misty"--one of my favorite ballads--soon.

Although I consider the blues scale a bit glib, I use it a lot because I am not a great pianist. Most people also find it satisfying in a gutbucket sort of way. Last night I was playing--C blues, of course--on my friend's baby grand piano. Another friend, Tim, was watching me play, and I asked him if he liked jazz as I began to walk the bass and stab in a subdominant chord.

He said that he didn't know much about jazz, but that he wanted to get more into it. Could I recommend anything? That question is hard for me to answer because, simply, there's a big difference between Albert Ayler and Ben Webster, but it's all jazz. I figured since he was enjoying my shoddy attempt at blues piano I'd recommend Oscar Peterson, whose music often serves as a gateway to more jazz because it is so swinging and gospel-tinged and reliable. It did for me.

When I got home, I thought maybe I should have recommended an album instead of an artist. I remembered the 1955 album "Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers" and posted the thought on his Facebook page. I felt more satisfied, but when I make a jazz recommendation, I usually feel sort of feeble.

Even though Tim wanted me to recommend him some jazz, the recommendation felt like an apology--like I was making a case for something beleaguered. It also felt inadequate, as I was saying earlier. I would have rather told him to buy a solo Earl Hines CD than an Oscar Peterson one. Maybe I didn't put enough faith in his tastes.

Or maybe I should have just directed him to Louis Armstrong's Dinah, which I posted above.

Do I even need to make a case for that? What would you have recommended? Is anyone out there?

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