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Dan Gould

"Misty" - WHY?

41 posts in this topic

OK, so, as a layperson jazz fan, I have probably heard Misty enough times to last the rest of my life.

What I am curious about is why it is so popular - can someone explain in relatively simple terms the appeal to improvisers?

As always thanks in advance.

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Appeal for players? It's familiar/popular, and the changes are easy, yet attractive in the way they move.

Appeal for audiences? Johnny Mathis really drove that one home. Even if you've never heard it, it's in the ether...or was, anyway.

"Look at me...." it's ingrained, and will be until it's not.

Also...the pattern of the A-section changes...you can reference "The Nearness Of You", "I Want to Talk About You", "Four", god knows what else. It's the way standards work, most of them have templates that get different melodies and just enough tweaks along the way that they become distinct and generic at the same time. People like that, musicians and audiences alike (except for those who don't!).

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Unfortunately, my cultural reference point for "Misty" is Cliff Claven.

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From Cheers? Not remembering what he did with Misty...it's been a while.

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Because it's an appealing melody composed and brilliantly performed by the great Erroll Garner?

Edited by kh1958

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13 minutes ago, JSngry said:

From Cheers? Not remembering what he did with Misty...it's been a while.

Diane agreed to accompany him to the Postmen's Ball or something like that, of course, as friends. Carla tells Cliff that "Misty" always gets her hot and bothered, so Cliff arranges to "run out of gas" then starts singing the tune.

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Oh my!

45 minutes ago, kh1958 said:

Because it's an appealing melody composed and brilliantly performed by the great Erroll Garner?

I might be misrembering, but didn't Mathis have a hit on it before Garner released a record of it, by like, a matter of years? Mathis in the 50s, Garner in the 60s?

The chronology of this has always baffled me...

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24 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Oh my!

I might be misrembering, but didn't Mathis have a hit on it before Garner released a record of it, by like, a matter of years? Mathis in the 50s, Garner in the 60s?

The chronology of this has always baffled me...

1954 composition, first recording 1955, Mathis hit came in 1959. Johnny Burke is the one responsible for the lyrics. No idea when Garner had a hit with it but I am frankly guessing it was a later recording after Mathis started the parade of vocal versions, which really helped make it part of the ether.

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And didn't Richard Groove Holmes score a hit with it in the mid-1960s?

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This is the Garner version that stayed in the stores seemingly forever, from 1961.

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This is a repackaging of earlier Mercury recordings, correct?

Yet, Columbia had a 45 of it from a 1957 album that was not in print when I started buying records, so I guess people who only wanted the song bought the Columbia 45, people who wanted an album bought the Mercury, and they all lived happily ever after?

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27 minutes ago, ghost of miles said:

And didn't Richard Groove Holmes score a hit with it in the mid-1960s?

Yep. He swung it too!

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Well shit - I always thought it was due to that Clint Eastwood movie. Learn something new every day.

 

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7 minutes ago, bresna said:

Well shit - I always thought it was due to that Clint Eastwood movie. Learn something new every day.

 

Yeah, there is the hope that you can play it and some beautiful chick like Jessica Walter with BPD will fall MADLY in love with you, stalk you, and kill people that stand in her way, until you have to blow her away with your Smith and Wesson before she hacks you up with a pair of scissors, but I've played it so many times on gigs, that I want to punch out the jerk that calls it on a gig as a ballad.

It might be fun if it were done as a medium tempo, like Houston Person did with "The Very Thought of You", but if I have to hear another male singer say that he feels "as helpless a kitten up a tree", I'll puke mu guts out on the stand. It's just been overplayed to death.

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Mathis ethereally coming out of the oboe solo still gives me chills.

Johnny Mathis was a damn good singer.

 

3 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

My Mom was a session singer, and she is on this version.  Trombone by Urbie Green.

 

That's nice!

Was Ray Charles just the name/leader or did he also do the arrangements? Did he use the same core group every time out? And for real, who was the base singer? That Thirl guy, or somebody else?

I used to sneer at records like that...my bad.  Section work, any section, is a beautiful thing when done well.

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

That's nice!

Was Ray Charles just the name/leader or did he also do the arrangements? Did he use the same core group every time out? And for real, who was the base singer? That Thirl guy, or somebody else?

I used to sneer at records like that...my bad.  Section work, any section, is a beautiful thing when done well.

The arrangements on that album are credited to Lew Davies, whose name is on a lot of Command records.  I don't know if Ray Charles had a hand in them or not.

A lot of those group leaders back then had a pool of singers/players that they used, usually an A and B list, and whoever was available that day showed up for the session.  My Mom did a lot of Ray Charles sessions roughly between 1959 and 1964, but other stuff too.

There was a joke among New York singers and musicians at that time: If someone said they were doing a Ray Charles session, the response was, "the blind one or the deaf one?"

The bass voice you are referring to may be Chuck Magruder, but I don't know for certain.  I think he had been one of the Pied Pipers IIRC.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Ok, geek time - did Ray Charles do his own contracting? Or was he just the guy with a name?

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9 hours ago, ghost of miles said:

And didn't Richard Groove Holmes score a hit with it in the mid-1960s?

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Misty is like Laura from the 40s-50s

Edited by Brad

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9 hours ago, JSngry said:

Ok, geek time - did Ray Charles do his own contracting? Or was he just the guy with a name?

I don't know for sure.  Lots of those guys used a contractor, but the contractor knew who and what the leader was seeking.  My Dad sang with Gordon Jenkins for a long time, and he was also Gordon's contractor.

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Misty is nice, but there are to many horn players on so called "Jam Sessions" who always call "Misty" if they want to play a ballad. "Misty" or "In a Sentimental Mood". Why ? Because they don´t know so many ballads. During the last few years most of my "gigs" were our group for the first set, and "jam session" for the 2nd set. That was the rule at the club. And most of the session-players called "Tenor Madness" , "Blue Bossa", "Misty" and so on. 

Good point about references to "I want to talk about you". 

The best "jam sessions" I ever played was when really great musicians came in and "cleaned" the stage, and you got a lot of challenge and inspirations. 

I´ll never forget a night some decades ago, when I guy around 30 whom I never saw came in, packed out his tenor and played and played and played....., and when it came about a ballad, he played one of the greatest versions of "Round Midnight" that I ever heard. I was so happy to play with him and everybody in the audience asked who he might be, and why they haven´t seen and most of all....heard him before. When the session was over, I asked around, who he is and they told me he just came from an East Europe country. Since I know the language, I talked to him. He later became very prominent in Europe and also played with a lot of US Stars. And he started to dig into the roots of old popular music from his home country to combine it with jazz, but I always will remember him as some of the best tenor saxophone I ever heard.....

That´s always the few great moments on jam sessions, if somebody comes and "lifts up the stage".....

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On 11/20/2021 at 9:21 PM, JSngry said:

Mathis ethereally coming out of the oboe solo still gives me chills.

Johnny Mathis was a damn good singer.

 

That's nice!

Was Ray Charles just the name/leader or did he also do the arrangements? Did he use the same core group every time out? And for real, who was the base singer? That Thirl guy, or somebody else?

I used to sneer at records like that...my bad.  Section work, any section, is a beautiful thing when done well.

I did a show where Johnny Mathis was the headliner, and I was playing for one of the other acts. All I remember is Johnny Mathis carried his own guitar player with him, and the guitar player was always barefoot.

JM had great taste in guitarists. He once had Buddy Fite as his guitarist, until BF couldn't take the air travel anymore.

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On 11/20/2021 at 8:56 AM, Teasing the Korean said:

I don't know for sure.  Lots of those guys used a contractor, but the contractor knew who and what the leader was seeking.  My Dad sang with Gordon Jenkins for a long time, and he was also Gordon's contractor.

Man, I envy your parents. You don't work for people like Gordon Jenkins and ray Charles without being one of the best.

For some people, the Ray Charles gig was a lifelong dream come true. A pianist I've mentioned before, used a Wurlitzer just like his hero, and was also a lifetime junkie like his hero. He had the gig for three or four years. They must have really been a riot together. He's on one of the live shows in Europe, along with that Detroit trumpet player Ray used.

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On 11/22/2021 at 3:36 AM, sgcim said:

Man, I envy your parents. You don't work for people like Gordon Jenkins and ray Charles without being one of the best.

You are thinking about the right Gordon Jenkins, but the wrong Ray Charles.  :lol:

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I don´t really know very much about other renditions of the tune, I think Dexter did it on some Steeple Chase , and further I´m not even sure if I have the original Garner Album, I don´t have very much Garner....

But I think, from the 70´s on, when I started to play active, it was often called. 
It´s strange, there are ballads I can´t hear often enough like "Round Midnite" , but I got tired of Misty 

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Checking my iTunes library, I seem to have versions by Errol Garner (multiple), Roy Eldridge, Wes Montgomery, Arnett Cobb, Arthur Blythe, Dorothy Ashby, Clark Terry, John Hicks, Hand Crawford, Freddie Hubbard, Buddy Rich, Pharoah Sanders, Ben Webster, Lucky Peterson, and Roderick Paulin.

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On 22/11/2021 at 9:07 AM, Gheorghe said:

I´ll never forget a night some decades ago, when I guy around 30 whom I never saw came in, packed out his tenor and played and played and played....., and when it came about a ballad, he played one of the greatest versions of "Round Midnight" that I ever heard. I was so happy to play with him and everybody in the audience asked who he might be, and why they haven´t seen and most of all....heard him before. When the session was over, I asked around, who he is and they told me he just came from an East Europe country. Since I know the language, I talked to him. He later became very prominent in Europe and also played with a lot of US Stars. And he started to dig into the roots of old popular music from his home country to combine it with jazz, but I always will remember him as some of the best tenor saxophone I ever heard.....

I’m curious on who that Eastern Europe sax player was! 

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