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Some Classy Jazz
Today we have Rita Moreno performing Aquarela do Brazil by Ary Barroso at the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize Ceremony honoring Bill Cosby.

I'm kind of at a loss for words. What mostly comes to mind is "Oh, good grief!" and "That's some cool triangle playing". I haven't seen anything this classy in a long, long time.

Ms. Moreno is backed by the David Berger Jazz Orchestra. Watch a larger version in the big player on my Music Video page. You can even watch full screen. And that really is some cool triangle.
 
Happy New Year, Luie!
Whenever I run across a clip like today's offering, so many thoughts race through my mind it's hard for me to put them into any logical order. First is usually something like, "Holy *$#! That's amazing!" quickly followed by, "I suck!" and other tangential thoughts such as "She's never had a lesson in her life! What horrible technique!"

Some of my favorite adages about music and music education have to do with the "learn, practice, study, practice, but then forget all of that" way of thinking. Musicians like me have to work hard for years only to become a fraction of what some other musicians seem to accomplish naturally. Of course, that's nonsense. Certainly some people have an innate talent that facilitates their musical progression, but I have found that usually comes in the form of motivation, persistence and dedication. The most gifted musicians I know have worked their butts off for years.

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Changes
David Bowie's Changes is performed by students of Lewes New School. According to the Lewes New School website:
The song was produced to promote the New School Thinking conference which we are hosting in October.
Only pupils from the school play the instruments and sing, except for the bass. This is Herbie Flowers, the bass player who played with Bowie on the original version.
I didn't bother looking much into either Lewes New School or the New School Thinking website. I'm all for schools and education, and my brief perusal of each site showed nothing sinister. But I'm not posting to promote either, and I'm not shilling for donations. I just really like the video. Anything that involves kids with music in such an engrossing way is A-OK in my book.

As a (very) amateur video guy, I realize the amount of effort that went into making this video. It's quite impressive. I hope you enjoy the clip. You can find it in the big video player on my Music Video page.
 
Ray Charles part 2
Today's performance is once again brought to you by Hee Haw. This time the great Ray Charles and Buck Owens get together for Buck's Crying Time.

I love Buck Owens. Not only is he a great songwriter, he's a pioneer and a member of Country Music Hall of Fame. His contributions to not just country music but music in general are numerous and significant. Artists as diverse as The Beatles, Johnny Rivers, Dwight Yoakam, Cake, and Creedence Clearwater Revival have covered Buck's songs. I'll bet Buck's catalog is as well known if not as vast as almost any artist in history.

In case you missed it, you can catch Ray Charles Part One here. And both videos are on the big player on my Music Video page. Enjoy!
 
Johnny Carson Sings
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGh6ZgPZFhs
I found an absolute gem in my Google Reader today. Frank, Dean-o, and Sammy are joined on stage by none other than Johnny Carson - who sings! And does a darn fine job, too.

Regular visitors will recognize my affinity for Johnny Carson. The man epitomizes everything about the "good ol' days" of popular entertainment in my book. Style, substance, and class abound with endless talent and showmanship. Johnny was a comedian, actor, musician, magician, and now a singer! I've seen him sing a line or two on occasion, and of course there's the tear inducing duet with Better Midler from his second-to-last show. But this clip is something different.

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Anything Goes
Herb Alpert is one of a group of musicians that straddles the line between awesomely cool and unapologetically cheesy. Other members of this group include Chuck Mangione and Spyro Gyra. What separates these "smooth jazz" musicians from the Kenny Gs of the world is that not only do these guys have chops, but they have some serious groove going on.

Take for example this clip of Herb and Lani Hall from the Craig Ferguson show. Just check out those cheesy grins on Herb and Lani as the piece starts. You can feel the smarm in the air. But woven within all that warm smoothness is some serious funk. Check out bassist Hussain Jiffry. Herb Alpert is a monster in the music world. He can command any musician he chooses. That he chooses a musician like Hussain says worlds about his coolness factor. The man is hip. The man is so cool you could keep a side of beef in him for a month.

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