Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Killer Opening Songs (On the Sunny Side of the Street)
Unlike the owner of this blog, Killer Opening Songs digs summer. It is one of its favourite seasons. Summer means optimism, creativity and bonheur. And since the summer solstice has just happened K.O.S. wanted to honour it by bringing you one of those tunes that will leave you licking your lips and tapping your feet. It might even throw a “99” in it. Flake optional.
Dizzy Gillespie’s stature as a trumpeter grew a few more inches with the release of the must-have album Sonny Side Up in 1957. The record not only showed his credentials as one of the most innovative and organically creative trumpet-players in jazz history, but it also demonstrated he had the chops to be an excellent bandleader. At the heart of the success of Sonny Side Up is the Killer Opening Song, On the Sunny Side of the Street. If you are looking for a summer melody, look no further than this starter. It has everything in it. Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stitt (yes, those two Sonnies) at the top of their game. In fact, the pair slugs it out nicely on the album. In regards to Rollins, this is the period that saw him jump from Blue Note to Metro-Jazz to Contemporary to other labels. As for his opposite number, Sonny Stitt, the slightly older and more seasoned gun-slinger, he had already built a reputation for demolishing up-and-coming cats. The icing on the cake is the spirit-lifting lyrics which Mr Gillespie delivers with gusto and panache: "Grab your coat and get your hat/Leave your worries on the doorstep/Life can be so sweet/On the sunny side of the street". Now, where's my 99?
After a funky, groovy start, second track The Eternal Triangle, brings in a saxophone-driven bebop-themed zesty number. This is followed by Killer Opening Songs’ favourite track, After Hours; a sultry blues that will make you snap your fingers and tap your feet throughout the whole track and beyond. The opening chords are by none other than Ray Bryant (yes, that Ray Bryant! Miles Davis’ Ray Bryant, Art Blakey’s Ray Bryant, Coleman Hawkins’ Ray Bryant) whose beautiful and deft piano-playing serves as a safety net above which all sorts of rhythmic pirouettes are performed.
Last song, I Know That You Know, provides a workout for bassist Tommy Bryant (Ray Bryant’s brother) and drummer Charlie Persip who have to keep up with the pace set by Gillespie, Stitt and Rollins. Great album Killer Ending Song and super Killer Opening Song make Sonny Side Up a smoker of a record to have. And if this is not the sound of summer, K.O.S. does not know what it is. Even if still the owner of this blog refuses to acknowledge the season.
Next Post: “Saturday Evenings: Stay In, Sit Up and Switch On”, to be published on Saturday 27th June at 6pm (GMT)