Johnny Summers | Piano Sessions, Vol. 2

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Piano Sessions, Vol. 2

by Johnny Summers

Originals composed in the style of the Great American Songbook paired with a selection of standards. This award winning album features Johnny Summers on trumpet and vocals with Tommy Banks on piano and joined throughout with some amazing guest musicians
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Ain't I Brilliant (feat. Tommy Banks)
3:11 $0.99
2. The Way You Make Me Feel (feat. Tommy Banks)
4:40 $0.99
3. You'll Never Work a Day in Your Life (feat. Tommy Banks)
3:49 $0.99
4. Star Dust (feat. Tommy Banks)
5:06 $0.99
5. Outta My Mind (feat. Jeremy Brown & Tommy Banks)
3:47 $0.99
6. Rockin' Chair (feat. Tommy Banks)
5:10 $0.99
7. If You Have to Ask (feat. Tommy Banks)
3:45 $0.99
8. Free Since I Met You (feat. Tommy Banks)
5:42 $0.99
9. Blues in the Night (feat. Eric Allison, Tommy Banks & Jeremy Brown)
5:21 $0.99
10. You're the One (feat. Kodi Hutchinson & Tommy Banks)
4:18 $0.99
11. Moonglow (feat. Tommy Banks)
4:55 $0.99
12. So Much in Love (feat. Tommy Banks)
3:52 $0.99
13. If I Could Be (feat. Tommy Banks, Eric Allison & Brendan McElroy)
4:22 $0.99
14. The Long, Hot Summer (feat. Tommy Banks)
2:58 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Johnny Summers, Piano Sessions Volume 2

"A great musician who you should truly experience"
-Ellis Marsalis

Full liner notes by Will Friedwald, of the Wall Street Journal

Johnny Summers, the ace Canadian singer and trumpeter, calls this album Piano Sessions, Vol. 2. (Vol. 1, which is also highly recommended, combined Johnny with pianist Chris Andrew). This is certainly an accurate title, since the main feature of each track is the juxtaposition of Johnny's resonant baritone (and equally resonant horn) with the expert playing of the storied pianist and composer Tommy Banks.
But to my mind, an equally good alternate title might be "The Song Sessions." Granted, that virtually every album ever made could be titled "The Song Sessions" – and that's the way it should be. But this particular project works very well as an illustration of the various types of modern popular songs that have been written over the decades and which continue to be composed today, not least by Mr. Summers and Mr. Banks.
The two songs by Hoagy Carmichael, "Rockin' Chair" and especially "Stardust," and Will Hudson's "Moon Glow," are all works that emerged out of the jazz experience, most of which made the transition from jazz instrumental to popular standard with the addition of lyrics. Both of the Carmichael classics have long been celebrated vehicles for jazz trumpeters, and Johnny's solo on here is especially rewarding. In many of the new songs here, Johnny and Tommy both are directly inspired by the tradition of witty jazz originals of the 1940’s, the kind written and recorded by such combos as the King Cole Trio and Louis Jordan's Tympany Five, which combined catchy melodies with novel lyrics and considerable comedy. "You'll Never Work A Day In Your Life," "Ain't I Brilliant," and "If You Have To Ask," capture that same spirit, evoking the legacy of such songs without ever going "retro."
(I'm particularly enamored of the many contemporary references in "You'll Never Work A Day In Your Life." However, my favorite line is: "You don't need portraits by the masters of paint / Like Picasso, who puts your nose where it ain't!")
Johnny's collaborator here, Tommy Banks, has worked in many different areas of music, from jazz to film & television to classical (and also enjoyed a career in politics as well). Thus, he's in a unique position to know how the different genres fit together, and he knows exactly when one becomes the other.
Harold Arlen's "Blues In The Night" (from the 1941 movie of the same name) and Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" (from the 1988 album Bad) are both very different and highly creative manifestations of the musical form known as the blues. The Arlen song has a lot in common with "Summertime" in terms of the way both songs are perceived; most listeners tend to assume that it really is an ancient folk blues number (like "House of the Rising Sun" perhaps) just the same way that the same listeners regard "Summertime" as a traditional Negro spiritual. In both cases, it's hard to believe that both songs were the work of professional composers writing for, respectively, Hollywood and Broadway. Like "Blues in the Night," "The Way You Make Me Feel" can be elaborated on in many different ways, but it's a blues riff at heart. The Bad original is a triumph of production, both analog and electronic, but Johnny does the late Jackson a major service by showing that "The Way You Make Me Feel" is a good enough composition to stand on its own, pared down to voice, trumpet, and piano. "If I Could Be" is a modern counterpoint to that, a funky piano riff and the kind of lyric that Ray Charles would sing, which also serves to frame a soulful clarinet solo by Eric Allison.
"Free Since I Met You" also incorporates elements of the blues – it could also be sung by a country & western artist; Tommy's playing here recalls the "slip note" touch of such Nashville keyboardists as Floyd Cramer. But "Free" is also in the tradition of the great love songs, of which "The Long Hot Summer" is a solid albeit lesser-known example. The melody was written a main title theme by Alex North for a 1958 movie that combined the talents of William Faulkner, Orson Welles, the postwar folk singer Jimmie Rodgers, and lyricist Sammy Cahn. It's a beautiful song (easily in the same class with North's mega-standard "Unchained Melody"), but very rare (virtually the only recording I know is by Dick Haymes, other than Jimmie Rodgers in the film itself). Both songs are tales of romantic possession, captivity and liberation, which slowly and steadily build to emotional climaxes; additionally, "Long Hot Summer" is a perfect closer.
The core of the album as always is the interplay between Johnny and Tommy – even though they're joined by bass, various saxophones, and guitar on roughly a third of the album, the other instruments add to the collaboration rather than detract from it. The difference between them, generationally, is more substantial than either of them would probably care to discuss, but throughout the two are consistently on the same page musically, whether in composing and performing new songs together or reinterpreting the classics. As both trumpeter and vocalist, Johnny consistently runs off to some unexpected place or other, but whenever he gets there, he invariably finds that Tommy is already there, waiting for him. Ain't that brilliant?
- Will Friedwald, of the Wall Street Journal



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