Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spotlight Special: I Love You

I Love You: Carol Morgan Quartet

[CDs will be available for purchase soon here]

The new album review is taking longer than I expected. Partly, that is because the album I’m working on is a long one, with over an hour of music. But it is also an album that takes me out of my musical comfort zone. I hope to have the review up tomorrow, but you, my readers, have been more than patient, so I wanted to share something with you while you wait.

As it happens, this post also takes me out of my comfort zone, because I never write about instrumental jazz. That’s because I love it when it’s done well, but I am not sure I know how to say why. Let’s find out. The Carol Morgan Quartet has Morgan on trumpet, and there are a tenor saxophone, stand up bass, and drums. No piano. I Love You as an old Cole Porter standard. The risk in doing a song this familiar is that the listener may compare it to a favorite version by someone else. The way to overcome that is to add something original to the conversation. Carol Morgan and her group do so brilliantly. Morgan introduces the theme by herself; the trumpet comes in by itself, and states the theme in a lonely vacuum. When the saxophone enters, the bass plays a heartbeat accompaniment. There is something of a sense here of the trumpet and sax feeling each other out. The drums come in with a sudden jump of joy, and the bass pattern changes to accentuate this. But the sax soon drops out, with the trumpet trio moving things along for a bit. The trumpet drops out to make room for the sax solo, and the rhythm pattern changes again. Then it’s just drums and bass for a bit at one point; usually, that would mean a bass solo, but here it’s a drum solo supported by a bass pulse. Finally, everyone comes back in for a finale that features wonderfully intertwining sax and trumpet lines. So there are all of these shifts in mood, and even in the approach to making the music. In some modern jazz, the melody and the idea of the song fracture into shards, becoming abstract and unrecognizable. Not here. Morgan and her group put a standard through a remarkable number of changes, but they never lose track of the melody. The result takes the words “I Love You”, and makes an eloquent statement on how love changes and grows in the long course of a relationship. All of this happens without a single word being sung. There are times when no words are needed.


Morgana said...

Thanks for your nice review, Oliver!
Carol Morgan.