Paris is the Place
Saturday December 9th, 2023, 5:00 PM – Three of a Kind.
A Paris Special with the compositions April in Paris, Afternoon in Paris and I Love Paris, each in three different versions. The programme opens with April in Paris, performed successively by Sarah Vaughan/Clifford Brown (1954), pianist Bill Evans (solo, in 1963) and a quintet led by trumpeter Thad Jones in 1956.
April in Paris
April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling
No one can ever reprise
Composer Vernon Duke and lyricist Yip Harburg wrote April in Paris for the Broadway revue Walk a Little Faster in 1932. The song was then picked up and recorded by various musicians, including singer Doris Day. Thelonious Monk recorded it several times. The version on the Count Basie orchestra’s album of the same name in 1955 marked the definitive breakthrough. This was not only due to the arrangement by Wild Bill Davis, but also to the Pop Goes The Weasel quote – see below – and to the repetition of the final climax section twice.
Sarah Vaughan aka Sassy (photo)
A voice range of three octaves, so beautiful in the low register, and an immediately enchanting timbre… In 1954 she stood next to trumpeter Clifford Brown in the studio. Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown unfortunately remained their only collaborative product. The album was her own favourite for a long time. The musicians take plenty of time to make a compelling version. After an intro, pianist Jimmy Jones is the only accompanist. The pianist takes over the solo, barely audibly assisted by bass and brushes. Enter tenor Paul Quinichette – with an almost sung solo that flows seamlessly into Brown’s stopped trumpet. Vaughan resumes the opening text with Brown at her side, followed by Herbie Mann’s flute.
In January 1963, Riverside Records producer Orrin Keepnews brought pianist Bill Evans into the studio for a solo session. Both Keepnews and Evans were not happy with the result. The recordings were therefore not published and remained on the shelf until 1984. April in Paris does not indeed make a well-thought-out, mature impression. But as a ‘peek into the kitchen’ of the improvising pianist it is perhaps unique.
Jones was trumpeter with Count Basie during the 1955 recording of the album April in Paris. He started his solo, immediately after the exposition of the theme, by quoting Pop Goes The Weasel – a well-known English/American traditional:
He did ‘something’ with it: the first four bars were a semitone higher. A jazz joke. Apparently that was quite a hit, and we also hear the same quote in the arrangement on his own album The Magnificent Thad Jones from 1956. Jones gives the piece a rather long, drawn-out, static intro. The association with ‘countdown’ is obvious. Tenor Billy Mitchell gets a role in the theme section, but after that it is Jones’s trumpet that fills the improvisational choruses. Pianist Barry Harris provides the subtle harmonic-rhythmic accompaniment.
Details of this programme – with music by Benny Golson, Andrew Hill, Roland Kirk, Ella Fitzgerald, Cecil Taylor, Charlie Parker and Lex Baxter – can be found in the Guide.
Three of a Kind – Bert Broere