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Harpsichord in jazz

47 posts in this topic

I was listening to Ben Webster - See You at the Fair and Roger Kellaway plays harpsichord on a couple tracks. It sounds ok on Lullaby of Jazzland but obviously piano, vibes and guitar are far more popular instruments in jazz ensembles. It's obvious why--the harpsichord is more nasal, tinny and lacks the resonances and sustain of the other rhythm instruments I mentioned that provide greater rhythmic and harmonic support. Not to mention soloing possibilities. It is interesting in a novelty kind of way to hear harpsichord in small ensemble jazz. But I don't like the sound. I know Lux Lewis worked on harpsichord and celeste too.

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Memphis Slim did some work on harpsichord. Ain't Nothing but a Texas Boogie on a Harpsichord, from the album Southside Reunion. Buddy Guy and A.C. Reed are on this one.

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johnny guarnieri comes to mind with artie shaw´s first gramercy five from 1940 and it sounds great!!!!!

keep boppin´

marcel

Edited by bichos

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I believe John Lewis plays some harpsichord on the MJQs "Blues on Bach".

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Harpsichord or Celeste: :bad:

In baroque and early classical I prefer harpsichord :)

In jazz and blues, however, I totally agree with you.

Edited by J.A.W.

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Even in classical period pieces I much prefer piano, though I can totally appreciate people wanting to perform and hear pieces as they were originally conceived.

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McCoy Tyner played a limited amount of harpsichord, and celeste, on his "Trident" album (a trio date with Ron Carter and Elvin Jones). It all sounded good to me.

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I love harpsichord, but only the models up to the 18th century. In the 20th century they started building harpsichords according to construction principles of modern pianos, in higher pitches and modern tunings which do not work very well with the sound of plucked strings as in the harpsichord - it needs the lower string tension and histroric tuning systems, and the thin soundboard to sound really fine.

I have several jazz recordings with harpsichord, but the instruments used necessarily are modern ones and do not sound very good - rather thin.

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:lol:

My only point of reference is the celeste on Profoundly Blue, and frankly I can't shake the image that it's just a really tiny Meade Lux Lewis sitting in with the band.

But, to each his own.

:rfr If they'd used an 18th century harpsichord perhaps I'd see the light. :w

Edited by papsrus

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johnny guarnieri comes to mind with artie shaw´s first gramercy five from 1940 and it sounds great!!!!!

keep boppin´

marcel

I agree. I also like Cal Cobbs' harpsichord playing on Albert Ayler's Love Cry. I think Lalo Schifrin played a bit on the Sade album.

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Martial Solal playing "Four Brothers" on harpsichord is amazing and hilarious.

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Call Cobbs' harpsichord playing is effective on Albert Ayler's "Angels" - Spirits Rejoice (ESP), but it's a relatively short track. I don't know if I'd want to hear it over the course of an entire jazz album.

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johnny guarnieri comes to mind with artie shaw´s first gramercy five from 1940 and it sounds great!!!!!

Agree! Can't imagine those sides any other way now.

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If you're bringing up harpsichord and celeste, you've gotta give equal time to Clavichord! Oscar Peterson recorded on one (with guitarist Joe Pass) for "Porgy And Bess" (Pablo 2310-779), on Jan. 26, 1976. And it's better than you might think...

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Wasn't there such a thread a few months ago already?

I guess I like it as often as it bothers me... most recently I loved it on a track on Erroll Garner's "Paris Impressions" LP!

Edited by king ubu

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There's the Hank Jones/Oliver Nelson album, Happenings, which also features Clark Terry. Hank Jones plays electric harpsichord on many of the tracks. I've only listened to it once, but that might be because I acquired so many Hank Jones albums around the same time that I enjoyed more readily.

Edited by Justin V

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it sure ruined a perfectly fine west coast session

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Wow, I absolutely LOVE the harpsichord on that album! I love John Williams' solo on "Moanin."

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Wasn't there such a thread a few months ago already?

yes:

search function is an easy tool.

two threads on that thing is tutu many.

Uh oh! Get the torches and pitchforks. Seriously, I don't see any mention of See You at the Fair in that thread.

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