music lessons two

Music lessons from The Doctrine of Affections. 2.

August 18, 2010
Today’s gem: Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass.

One of the truisms of jazz commentary is that a breakthrough was made when vocalists started using their voices┬álike instruments. Freed from the limitations of attendance to the lyrics, so the argument goes, singers truly became jazz artists, improvising and creating like virtuoso instrumentalists. Ella Fitzgerald etc. But listen to Joe Pass and Ella together on “Take Love Easy.” The real breakthrough is that of the instrumentalist who uses his instrument like a voice, uses it to speak, and on that album Ella is attending to the words more than on anything else she’s ever done. Joe insists on it with every note, speaking to her more intimately than anyone else possibly could. Never have two people conversed with greater understanding, and when has Ella been better? Never.

from “The Candle Thief” (The Doctrine of Affections)

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