Monday, September 29, 2014

Warne Marsh, John Lewis

I've posted a few tunes from Tristano and his students in the past. Here's one that was written by Warne Marsh, Dixie's Dilemma. A contrafact on Jerome Kern's classic All The Things You Are, the tune's title has a colorful and vulgar story behind it that I won't summarize here. As with most of the Tristano school's compositions, this one is beautiful, clever, and difficult.

It's all the more remarkable considering that both Marsh and fellow saxophonist Ted Brown play this composition on tenor saxophone, a real workout of the horn's altissimo range.

I've also decided to take a crack at Milestones, a composition written by either Miles Davis or John Lewis, depending on which source you believe. While original credit for the composition went to Charlie Parker, almost every contemporary source disagrees with this. But whether the actual author was Miles Davis or John Lewis remains a matter of some dispute, even among prominent writers. Feather (1949, p. 18), Yanow (2000, p. 76), Koch (1988, p. 103) and Tingen (2001, p. 29) credit Davis, while Giddins (1998, p. 340), Priestly (2005, p. 59), and Szwed (2002, p. 60) credit Lewis. Giddins includes elaborate anecdotal information about the recording session, and asserts that the tune was written "as a gift" from Lewis to Davis. So until I hear a compelling contradiction to this story, I'll go with Lewis as the author of Milestones.

As always, your input is welcome. Post a comment!