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1. God Only Knows

God Only Knows

This song long ago vested itself passionately within the ventricles of my heart. Brian Wilson hit many home runs, yet something within the shape and structure of "God Only Knows" is so utterly off the beaten path - it's mystical and profound. I'd even liken it to the most "perfect" of all musical pieces: Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus." Is that too far a stretch? This little solo track of mine from several years ago... I can and will do better and share that with you very soon. Valentine's Day? One among some of the more atypical approaches I spun around was to play GOK using the figuration from Bach's WTC Prelude #1, which has been, incidentally, used quite famously as a background setting for "Ave Maria" (not to be confused with Schubert's setting). Running Wilson's harmonic structure, voice leading, counterpoint - whatever terminology you prefer - works very nicely in the figuration, and It plays itself, so to speak. Which makes it feel like a gimmick. This true masterpiece of American song deserves better. You dig?

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3. Don't Blame Me

Don't Blame Me

Don't Blame ME! Unless you magically bypassed a couple decades of great jazz records, is it possible to approach this great old standard without feeling as if Thelonious Monk is looming about in the zeitgeist, the dust particles that inevitably obfuscate the sprightly spring and proper bounce and action of your piano keybed? Remember: the baroness Nica was, after all, named not, evidently after a butterfly, but a MOTH - a dust mote, I think. Great music, and especially jazz, surely connects us folk in all kinds of wonderful and wacky ways.

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4. One For My Baby

One For My Baby

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5. Solo Piano

Solo Piano

Solo piano recordings by John LeBec, 2007-2013.

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6. Two For The Road - Solo Piano

Two For The Road - Solo Piano

High on my list of favorite Henry Mancini tunes is "Two For the Road." Leslie Bricusse wrote the lyrics. Although it's since become a jazz standard (sort-of) it first entered the public consciousness as the main theme for Stanley Donen's 1967 film, "Two For the Road." Starring Albert Finney And Audrey Hepburn, Wikipedia calls TFTR a "Romantic Comedy," but they're wrong. It's a heartbreaking story that ends with a primordial "?" And such was life in 1967. If you want to hear an excellent recording of song with the lyrics, I recommend the "choral version" on Mancini's 1967 OST album/LP/CD, Mancini was a master of writing close harmony for three-four way chorus, and that's why I consider his OST arrangement my "go-to" version for vocals. Mancini was also a master pianist, conductor, arranger, composer, husband and father. I mean... what a guy. Another nice vocal rendition was recorded in 2003 by Monica Mancini, Henry's beautiful and very talented daughter, and released on the 2004 CD, "Ultimate Mancini." ---- If you're feeling fancy free, Come wander through the world with me, And any place we chance to be, Will be our rendezvous. Two for the road. We'll travel down the years, Collecting precious memories, Selecting souveniers, And living life, The way we please. In summertime the sun will shine. In winter we'll drink summer wine. And every day that you are mine, Will be a lovely day. As long as love still wears a smile, I know that we'll be two for the road, and that's a long, long while.

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7. A Modest Measure Of Standards

A Modest Measure Of Standards

This track is a medley of songs that I grew to know over time in different ways. Any piano player who digs Bill Evans really can't help but to go there sometimes, even often, and why not? The fabulous Musicologist Thomas Owens (author of the dissertation on Bird wherein he more-or-less successfully builds an īndex of Parker's "licks") would later write an excellent book about what we know in scholarship as the BeBop Era. I'll always remember the moment I reached the end of a chapter, perhaps somewhere about 2/3 through the book, where Owens writes, and I paraphrase, that Bill Evans was the most influential pianist of the BeBop era. A very bold claim indeed, but as I sat and thought and marveled over how someone of scholarship had at long land crowned Evans THE GUY... just, wow. But in Bill Evans there is Bud Powell, right? Horace Silver, Red Garland... so many fabulous players, and yet Evans was the Bach of BeBop piano, at least until he began to settle into what I believe to be his less inspired and tragically less engaging work starting around the late-1960's. And then there's one jazz icon in particular - although his legend did not quite reach substantive mainstream and/or epic proportions until long after his passing in the late-1970's - whose legacy is alive and well by virtue of the volumes of students he taught over the course of several decades. This white, blind, furiously fingered, cantankerous (by some accounts) cranky little dude living in NYC and later Jamaica, was seemingly less hated than he was idolized by a majority of others, as if he were the Maharishi incarnate of jazz improvisation, a cult-like following consisting of a devout cadre of fans, students, imitators, and indelibly inspired jazz giants in their own right, a man whom the verily brilliant performance artist and writer Stanley Crouch's has acknowledged with respect, without dismissing entirely this particular artist's undeniable influence on the music, but otherwise seems to be quite sorrowfully nonplussed, if not outraged for those very same reasons. Stanley Crouch cannot squelch his disdain over the fact that such a mythological figure actually exists - for real, and he matters. And that jazz pianist is Lennie Tristano. And had there been no Lennie Tristano, what then of Bud Powell and the most influential BeBop pianist, Bill Evans?

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9. Do You Know The Way To San Jose?

Do You Know The Way To San Jose?

A theme and variations on a great song written by the great Bacharach & David, and initially made famous by Dionne Warwick - and rightfully so. This is a long track. It's not technically a theme and variations but rather the song played five times in a row, each time in a new key, varied tempi and moods. I cannot look back to my youth and recall a time when I did not know the music of Bacharach/David. It was omnipresent during my childhood, in the 1970's, and that, together with how well these compositions have withstood the test of time, and a little kickback from Austin Powers, Bacharach may todY be no less popular and beloved than ever through his long, industrious, productive, multi-faceted career. At a future time I would like to get a dialogue going about Bacharach's unusual sense of time, or, more technically, his oscillation of time signatures. Meaning no disrespect to his genius, I could not help, upon reading his recent memoir, seeing pieces of a puzzle that perhaps resembles a variety of acute autism or some other atypical state of consciousness that was the seed from which his bounty of luscious fruits did bloom. But for now, never mind that bunk - hope you enjoy this track.

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10. Cant Go For That (backing tracks)

Cant Go For That (backing tracks)

proof of concept?

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11. Old Archive

Old Archive

Features recordings by other performers, analyses of recordings, and older recordings by John LeBec.

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14. Aberdeen 2013

Aberdeen 2013

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15. Johnny Pierogi & the Highland Bongo Slappers

Johnny Pierogi & the Highland Bongo Slappers

A selection of 1970-80's pop tunes arranged for jazz trio and Cuban percussion ensemble.

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17. Trio


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19. Live @ Carmelite 2014

Live @ Carmelite 2014

This playlist contains a series of recordings made one night during my hotel/pub gig at The Carmelite Hotel, Aberdeen, Scotland. My overall motto for this series was quite simply: Goodbye jazz club, hello piano bar. I made this recording using very basic gear. I touched it up later at home using very basic mastering tools. To paraphrase Pee Wee Marquette, all the clinking and clanking of glasses and other ambient noise you hear is real. It all went down that way (not at Birdland) but at The Carmelite. The evenings during which I made these "live" recordings, few folk were out pubbing and whatnot. It was a bitterly cold, dark week, early January 2014 - hence the lack of applause after and between tunes. (That's my rational explanation for the lack of applause, anyway...) Happy new year and ENJOY!

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