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SOTM January 2020 - Stars fell on Alabama

MMM

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836
Happy New Year and New Decade!

January’s Song of the Month is “Stars Fell on Alabama”

Originally written by Frank Perkins in 1934, it has been covered many times by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Doris Day, Ben Webster, Stan Getz and Frank Sinatra among many other famous artists.

However the version I fell in love with is Julian Cannonball Adderley’s version found on the “Cannonball and Coltrane” record. Recorded while on a break from the Miles Davis Sextet in 1959, it is one of my all time favourite jazz albums, probably because it was the first jazz record I ever bought age 15!

Here is the Youtube link “Stars fell on Alabama” Julian Adderley.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Written music and backing track in concert F can be found here (courtesy of NigelD! Thank you!).

Wishing you all a music filled 2020! M.
 

jbtsax

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I second Cannonball Adderly's recording of that classic tune--- one of his best improvised solos ever in my opinion. My second favorite recording of that song was done by one of our local musicians in Utah, David Halliday in collaboration with vocalist Angela Bingham who performs a lot in New York City. David began taking lessons from Joe Henderson while still in high school in California. This recording called "The Night We Called It a Day" also features the "tasty" guitar playing of Kenji Aihara another amazing local musician. The tenor solo starts at 1:45.

 

Pete Effamy

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I found a nice recording by Sidney Bechet so I transcribed his one chorus solo and played that with a BiaB backing track featuring their tame stride pianist.

Stars Fell On Alabama - Rhys Sop 1 Chorus V1.mp3 - Box

Rhys
Well done for keeping the soprano tamed Rhys. Intonation good and a nice rendition of the tune - doesn't need a solo does it, the tune is a great tune. My constructive critique is two-fold: watch that you don't clip notes on swing 8ths - you only do it a couple of times and interestingly only on low notes, the rest is nicely legato-tongued. My 2nd point is that you can dare to make your vibrato a little wider, even on the soprano.
Again, well done and HNY.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,456
I second Cannonball Adderly's recording of that classic tune--- one of his best improvised solos ever in my opinion. My second favorite recording of that song was done by one of our local musicians in Utah, David Halliday in collaboration with vocalist Angela Bingham who performs a lot in New York City. David began taking lessons from Joe Henderson while still in high school in California. This recording called "The Night We Called It a Day" also features the "tasty" guitar playing of Kenji Aihara another amazing local musician. The tenor solo starts at 1:45.

Thanks for posting this jbt - very good musicians despite being "local". We're all local to somewhere! :) HNY
 

randulo

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Ne0Wolf7

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jbtsax

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While searching for the key Cannonball played this tune in I came across this gem. It is a masterclass on how to embellish a melody aside from his creative improvisation that shows a lot of Parker's influence in his style and playing. A local jazz professor and saxophonist says that Cannonball Adderly is perhaps the most "underrated" player jazz player of all time. The more I listen to Cannonball, the more I tend to agree with his comment.

 

trimmy

One day i will...
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10,147
perhaps the most "underrated" player jazz player of all time.
Cannonball comes in at no’19 of all time sax players behind altoists Crawford(18) Coleman(14) McClean(13) Hodges(12) Pepper(8)
I’d have him ahead of the other four altoists but behind Pepper, not surprisingly Parker came in at no’1 ahead of Coltrane.
All subjective of course....
Best Jazz Saxophonists Of All Time: A Top 50 Countdown | uDiscover

Ps. Lovely tune and very good takes above
 

randulo

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My thoughts, all due respect:

1. It's all subjective and context-sensitive
2. Music isn't a contest.

YouTube video posters and other media, perhaps from Downbeat Magazine and before it, insists on running lists or "Top 10" videos and it's all just words. Look at the Oscars. Most years, few people agree with the choices. One person's meat and all that.

Cannonball isn't underrated by lovers of this style on music, only by list makers. There are far too many beautiful players out there to start rating them in comparisons.

Finally, there are contextual factors. In a historical context, Bird, or Jimi Hendrix changed the world of their musical genres. You can still listen to either, but there's more out there and there's no number one or 19 in my book, only what I (and we) like more or like less.
 

B Flat

Senior Member
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393
Stars fell on Alabama played in my leaky The Martin Comm III Baritone.
Otto Link Masterlink 4 stars piece opened to .110.
Rico Royal 3.5.
Aebersold backing.

I decided to give this tune a quick play through while trying to find a leak that has eluded me for months now.
Still can’t find it so it’s time to take it to a tech.
Even with a leak it’s a great horn to play.
Nick.
 

jbtsax

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In my opinion it is unforgivable that Cannonball Adderly did not even get a mention in Ken Burns documentary of Jazz history. His broad pallet of styles of jazz articulations were unique and no other player injected a feeling of "soul" into Be Bop the way he did.

The fact that he is not high on the list of best jazz saxophonists proves my point exactly. ;)
 

GCinCT

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In my opinion it is unforgivable that Cannonball Adderly did not even get a mention in Ken Burns documentary of Jazz history. His broad pallet of styles of jazz articulations were unique and no other player injected a feeling of "soul" into Be Bop the way he did.

The fact that he is not high on the list of best jazz saxophonists proves my point exactly. ;)
I agree completely. I am a huge Cannonball fan. His infusion of soul and bluesy grit was unique. One criticism of him that I've read is that he had a collection of phrases that he used repeatedly. That is unfair as Charlie Parker also had a number of pet phrases that appear constantly in his solos.
 

rhysonsax

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When I was searching for nice recorded versions I stumbled upon a live recording made in the 1950s by a group with various star British soloists. "Stars Fell On Alabama" was in a ballad medley and was played on baritone by Harry Klein about whom I knew very little. He used to top the Melody Maker polls in the mid 1950s for baritone sax until my hero Ronnie Ross came to prominence.

I decided to transcribe the baritone solo and found it very difficult for various reasons, including the poor quality of the live recording and the time feel from the bass player and the soloist. Anyway I ended up doing the transcription with double time notation and made a BiaB backing track at the same tempo.

Stars Fell On Alabama - Rhys Bari Sax 1 chorus V1.mp3 - Box

Rhys
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,456
When I was searching for nice recorded versions I stumbled upon a live recording made in the 1950s by a group with various star British soloists. "Stars Fell On Alabama" was in a ballad medley and was played on baritone by Harry Klein about whom I knew very little. He used to top the Melody Maker polls in the mid 1950s for baritone sax until my hero Ronnie Ross came to prominence.

I decided to transcribe the baritone solo and found it very difficult for various reasons, including the poor quality of the live recording and the time feel from the bass player and the soloist. Anyway I ended up doing the transcription with double time notation and made a BiaB backing track at the same tempo.

Stars Fell On Alabama - Rhys Bari Sax 1 chorus V1.mp3 - Box

Rhys
Well done on the transcription. What happened to your vibrato?
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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One criticism of him that I've read is that he had a collection of phrases that he used
It’s a silly criticism as this is an element of Bebop.

much as I like many sax players, there are few that astound me every time I hear them as if I am hearing them for the first time. Cannonball is one.
 
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Pete Effamy

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1,456
Sorry, whenever I try and use the quote on my phone it never responds. This time it did but put my answer in with the quote.
 
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