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 reasons I have to be thankful.
Let’s start with my most important reasons to be thankful:
For my beautiful, loving, caring wife: Faith
For my two incomparable children: Allegra and Alexander
For my three remarkable grandchildren: Maia, Dimitri and Asante
For the many friends who have enhanced and enriched my life. (You all know who you are.)
And now the music I’m thankful for:
* * * * *
– 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, Quincy Jones, Benny Carter, Neal Hefti, Ralph Burns, Gil Evans, George Russell, Bill Holman, Thad Jones 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, Teka, 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 ragas of India.
– The lives and music of Blossom Dearie, Russ Garcia, Louie Bellson, Maurice Jarre, Les Paul, Mary Travers, Mercedes Sosa,Tim Hauser and many more no longer with us.
The singing of Cassandra Wilson, Carol Welsman, Achinom Nini, Denise Donatelli, Eric Van Aro, Angelique Kidjo, Jane Monheit, Andrea Wolper, Roberta Gambarini, Sheila Jordan, Gretchen Parlato, Tierney Sutton, Michael Buble, Karrin Allyson, Nnenna Freelon, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cat Conner, Cheryl Bentyne, and many of the others in the overflowing arena of talented vocal artists.
– The poetry of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. The songs of Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Brian Wilson, Paul Simon, Carole King, Elton John, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Randy Newman, 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, Stevie Wonder, Nirvana, Kanye West, Herb Alpert & Lani Hall (among many 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. Including the Gershwins, the Bergmans, Hank Mancini, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart and many others.
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. All his Symphonies and Operas.
– The madrigals of Gesualdo.
– Beethoven‘s Piano Sonata No. 32. His late string quartets.
– The songs of Schubert.
– Chopin‘s Etudes, Preludes and Waltzes.
– Beethoven‘s 3rd, 5th and 9th, 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.
The music, dance and shamanic drumming of Alessandra Belloni.
–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. Please feel free to comment with your own music to be thankful for.