Elegie – Art Tatum
Ko-Ko – Duke Ellington
Dying Crapshooter’s Blues – Blind Willie McTell
South American Way – Carmen Miranda

13 thoughts on “1940

  1. Love the picture.

    That Art Tatum track is blistering, beautiful, and not at all what I expected with a name like “elegie.” I expected something quiet and contemplative and maybe mournful. This was like a few people talking at once! Is that called contrapuntal? Maybe not. It sounded almost eastern european in parts, to my ears. Now I want to hear more Art Tatum!

    I liked all the rest, too, but I guess this was the most unexpected to me.

  2. It’s a little known fact that Art Tatum actuallybhad 8 hands and 3 brains. Once you know that it’s a lot less impressive.

    “Now I want to hear more Art Tatum!” (let me know when)

  3. On its way, in all seriousness, there is something beguiling about Elegie, I don’t know the technical terms, but he’s one of the main stride piano players, which could mean the same thing as contrapuntal. It’s a tune by Jules Massenet so it turns out it is European. Come back anytime for more expert analysis!

  4. Here’s what wikipedia says about contrapuntal. I’m still not sure what it means, but it does describe that giddy feeling that he’s playing several tunes with each hand that sometimes click together…

    In its most general aspect, counterpoint involves the writing of musical lines that sound very different and move independently from each other but sound harmonious when played simultaneously. In each era, contrapuntally organized music writing has been subject to rules, sometimes strict. By definition, chords occur when multiple notes sound simultaneously; however, harmonic, “vertical” features are considered secondary and almost incidental when counterpoint is the predominant textural element. Counterpoint focuses on melodic interaction—only secondarily on the harmonies produced by that interaction.

  5. I liked the Art Tatum too.

    it’s not especially connected, but I was listening to Lubomyr Melynk the other day who claims to be “the fastest piano player in the world”!! I have to say he did seem pretty bloody fast! it almost sounds like ambient music at times

  6. Funny how these tracks all seem so upbeat, sophisticated, and full of life, in the midst of a year I think of as being characterised by so much misery and dispair. Hadn’t heard that particular Tatum track before, it’s indeed a very fine one. The Ellington is also sublime.

    • The fact that all these songs were from the “new world” might explain it as well. Although I see the previous decade as a long run-up to subsequent events, so I would have thought it would have permeated more in the music. That’s a big oversight on my part not to have looked out for possibly more relevant tunes.

  7. No, on the contrary- I think you made the perfect choice.. with so much misery, even more important that the music is joyous.
    Speaking of an 8 handed, 3 brained man, here’s a nice clip..

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