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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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January 25, 2007 |

Our blatant predisposition for jazz standards could lead us to nowhere but This incredible web resource is a must-link in your web browsers favorites, for reasons we'll uncover. Information and insight to a thousand standards, and an arguably notional Top 100 Song List will get you to the bottom of establishing your own library of personal jazz favorites. We've had fun comparing to our own ever evolving list of standards. (See Tuneage)

We wouldn't even begin to get into the whole black science of establishing the top 100 xxxx's of all time movies, actors, TV shows, etc., let alone songs. Despite the efforts to make it scientific, one must factor in the human elements of bias, preconception, and context, taking any such rankings with a grain of salt. Get around all that, this effort is still a terrific, if nothing else comprehensive resource to find tidbits and basic analysis of some of the best jazz songs ever written and recorded.

Look up one of our favorites, Ned Young/Victor Washington's "My Foolish Heart" penned 1949. Our first exposure to this tune was a reharmonized Bill Evans version (Live at the Village Vanguard), but here we look it up and find the tune (ranked #103 for what it's worth...) was originally a simple "ice cream changes" version later to be "jazzed up" by tenor saxophonist Dodo Mamaroso in 1950, and later picked up by vocalist Carmen McRae in 1956, pianist Andre Previn, and bass legend Ray Brown. Comments are listed by jazz historian Chris Tyle, and we get a succinct musical analysis of its form. Musicologist K.J. McElrath, "A well-constructed melody made up of strong motivic patterns helps keep this tune 'in the ear' and easily learned. With a wide range (a 10th), it is probably more attractive to instrumentalists than vocalists."

Listen to MP3 of site author's mandolin version: My Foolish Heart

This is the website's format for hundreds of tunes: ranking, form and harmonic analysis, historical context, and a sprinkling of discography to find for yourself who's recorded what. You'll get a kick out of reading the song list and ranking alone, but take the time to dig into some of your personal favorites, research where they came from and glean perspective of historical roots.

The real beauty of the site, it will generate even more questions than answers for you as you continue to surf link after link, reference after reference to some of the greatest music of the last 100 years.

View rankings: Songlist

View website:

Bill Evans YouTube video: My Foolish Heart

Posted by Ted at January 25, 2007 9:41 PM

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