By Don Heckman
It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving Day has arrived. And here’s my annual, continual and growing list of the many musical reasons I have to be thankful.
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– Every note Charlie Parker ever played.
– Ditto for Louis Armstrong. And Miles Davis.
– Bebop, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Tadd Dameron, Ray Brown, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Clifford Brown and more.
– The magical spells of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.
– Ditto for Don Redman, Sy Oliver, Benny Carter, Neal Hefti, Ralph Burns, Gil Evans, George Russell, Bill Holman, Thad Jones, Johnny Mandel and Oliver Nelson. Maria Schneider and her Orchestra. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The Big Phat Band. The “Ghost Bands.”
– Count Basie‘s rhythm section (with Freddy Green, Jo Jones, Walter Page).
– Billie Holiday‘s “Strange Fruit.”
– Nina Simone‘s “I Loves You Porgy.”
– Ella Fitzgerald‘s Song Books.
– Joe Williams‘ “Here’s To Life.”
– Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle.
– Coleman Hawkins playing “Body and Soul.”
– Ben Webster playing a ballad – any ballad.
– Sonny Rollins playing “St. Thomas.”
– Almost anything by Miles, Herbie, Wayne, Ron and Tony.
– Ditto for Charles Mingus, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Lee Konitz.
– Ditto for Thelonious Monk.
– John Coltrane playing “A Love Supreme.”
– Ravi Coltrane playing — right now Along with Charles Lloyd, Branford Marsalis, Christian Scott, Jason Moran, Brian Blade, Anat Cohen, Joe Lovano, Keith Jarrett, Sonny Rollins , Chris Botti, Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes and many many more.
– Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, Elis Regina, Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso, Ivan Lins, Gilberto Gil, Eliane Elias, Heitor Villa-Lobos and all the rest of the creators of the marvelous music of Brazil.
– The life, accomplishments and music of Michael Jackson.
– The life and music of Eva Cassidy.
– The life the beliefs and the music of John Lennon.
– The life, music and ideas of George Russell.
– The lives, music and teaching of Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar.
– The music in the poetry of Rumi.
– The mugham of Azerbaijan.
– The lives and music of Blossom Dearie, Russ Garcia, Louie Bellson, Maurice Jarre, Les Paul, Mary Travers, Mercedes Sosa and many more no longer with us.
The singing of Cassandra Wilson, Carol Welsman, Denice Donatelli, Jane Monheit, Roberta Gambarini, Gretchen Parlato, Tierney Sutton, Karrin Allyson, Nnenna Freelon, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cheryl Bentyne and many of the others in the overflowing arena of talented female jazz singers.
– The poetry of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. The songs of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Brian Wilson, Paul Simon, Carole King, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Bacharach and David, Sting and all the other singer-songwriters.
– The music of Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joan Baez, The Who, David Bowie, Nirvana, Kanye West (among others).
– Selmer saxophones and clarinets, Fazioli pianos, Pro Tools and Logic Pro.
– The composers and the lyricists whose music will live forever in the Great American Songbook.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
– Everything and anything by Mozart, but especially the Clarinet Concerto and the Clarinet Quintet.
– The madrigals of Gesualdo.
– Beethoven‘s Piano Sonata No. 32.
– The songs of Schubert.
– Chopin‘s Etudes, Preludes and Waltzes.
– Beethoven‘s 3rd, Schubert‘s 8th, Mendelssohn‘s 4th, Brahms‘ 4th, Tchaikovsky‘s 6th, Prokofiev‘s 1st.
- – The Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, the Goldberg Variations, the Cello Suites the Brandenburg Concertos and almost everything else he ever wrote.
– The String Quartets of Beethoven, Debussy and Ravel.
– Rachmaninoff‘s Piano Concerto No. 3.
– The Bartok Concerto for Orchestra. His String Quartets No. 3 and 4.
– L’Orfeo, The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville, Falstaff, Madam Butterfly, Die Fledermaus, Tristan Und Isolde, Three Penny Opera, Porgy and Bess, Hair, Pal Joey, West Side Story
Plus the numerous other gifted artists I haven’t mentioned.