dtrcd146.jpg (35233 bytes)

Harry Pickens - Passionate Ballads


Harry Pickens - Piano

1. Somewhere Over The Rainbow
2. The Man I Love
3. Misty
4. The Nearness Of You
5. Someone To Watch Over Me
6. How Deep Is The Ocean
7. You Don’t Know What Love Is
8. Teach Me Tonight
9. The Very Thought Of You
10. Blame It On My Youth
11. My One And Only Love
Total Time 63:34

Listen to CD Tracks

  I love ballads. For me, great ballads are not about music or lyric, but rather, display a unique synthesis of tone and text that often matches the depth, beauty, and coherence of the greatest art songs of the Romantic era. For me, ballad interpretation revolves around the text. The tones, textures, harmonies, all chosen in the moment - at best serve to reveal, to illumine, to embrace the song's lyrical intention. 

 The ballads on this recording hold a special place in my heart. I'm grateful to be able to share the miracle of music with you. Enjoy.

 The Man I Love - This Gershwin classic is one of my mother's favorites. This one is for you, mom.

 Misty - This classic Erroll Garner tune was a special request from my Aunt Constance "Cee". She introduced me to Erroll over 20 years ago and is also responsible for perhaps 50% of my song repertoire. She would constantly ask me, 'do you know this tune?' And when I (more often than not) responded with a blank state and sheepish 'no, Cee, I've never heard it', she would proceed to pull out yet another LP or 8-track featuring Nat, Sarah, or Ella and instruct me in the magical mysteries of yet another classic. Recently, I asked her if she had any songs she'd like me to play on my next solo CD. She promptly pulled out a list of 24 tunes she had prepared for just such an occasion. Thanks, Cee. This CD is dedicated to you.

 The Nearness Of You - My dear friend Jeanne Evans' favorite ballad. Jeanne is a true patron of the arts and has not only brought great music to thousands throughout Southern California, but has also created scholarship programs giving many talented young artists career support when they need it most. Thank you, Jeanne, for all you've done for the cause of Music.

 You Don't Know What Love Is - until you know the meaning of the blues. I can't play or hear this song without thinking of Billie Holiday, with her near-constant vacillation between radiant hope and horrific despair. Funny how life seems to work - the deeper our capacity for experiencing sorrow - the more love we are able to contain and express. Billie somehow knew this. The song writers - Don Raye and Gene de Paul clearly knew this. I hope my interpretation captures a bit of the song's essential paradox.

 Teach Me Tonight - I first heard this tune as sung by Sarah Vaughan. A Verve release from the 70's, with Oscar Peterson on piano, I believe. Then I heard it on, what is for me, perhaps the ultimate jazz piano record - Erroll Garner's Concert By The Sea. Erroll exuded so much joy; Sassy radiated such exuberance and power, and the lyric is delightful.

 The Very Thought Of You - My favorite love song. 'Nuff said.

 Blame It On My Youth - One of my all-time favorite ballads. I first heard the song played by Keith Jarrett in 1991. I listened to his masterful interpretation at least 50 times the first week I bought the CD, every time with tears of joy cascading down my cheeks. Later I discovered Nat Cole's version and learned the words. About 5 years later, I understood them. This song delights me not only because of it's musical impeccability and poignant theme, but also because of the profound innocence portrayed in the text.

 My One And Only Love - I love this song's winding melody and luscious lyric. Whenever I hear it, I think of the classic John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman album.

 Thank you to Jamey D. Aebersold, Steve Good, Mike Tracy, Jerry Tolsen, Jamey Aebersold, Kathleen Woeber, Loonis McGlohon, The University of Louisville Music Department and the 200 plus friends, students, and jazz fans who attended the concert from which this recording was made. Plus, a special thanks to Mom and Cee for your ever present love, support and encouragement.
 Thanks for purchasing this CD and giving me an opportunity to share the gift of music with you. I feel utterly blessed to have the privilege of being a musician - especially because I can bear witness to the miracle of improvisation - spontaneous invention - as the music emerges like a baby from the womb - full-born, with an identity all its own, and a life forever part of mine, but also forever independent.
 May the Love that is you be evoked by these tones. 

About Harry Pickens
 Harry Pickens has performed internationally with many jazz legends, including James Moody, Milt Jackson, Freddie Hubbard, Johnny Griffin, Joe Henderson, and Slide Hampton, as well as with many of the top players of his own generation, including Wallace Roney, Kenny Garrett, Ralph Peterson, Carl Allen, and Robert Hurst.  He has recorded with the Johnny Griffin Quartet and with Out of The Blue on the Blue Note label.  This is his first solo CD.

 Harry is also a consummate teacher, professional speaker, and skilled facilitator, who uses the magic and mystery of jazz to help people live more fulfilling, rewarding, joyful, and productive lives.  From corporate boardrooms, where he teaches leaders the art of ‘strategic improvisation’, to schools, where he inspires teachers to connect with the master performer within, to colleges and universities, where he presents what is perhaps the most unique and comprehensive artist-residency program in existence — Harry combines masterful music-making with powerful insights into the ‘skills of jazz’  to empower, inform, and inspire audiences wherever he goes.
January 1999 

If you'd like to contact me, or to be placed on my mailing list for ongoing updates about concerts, workshops, new releases, please write Harry C. Pickens, P. O. Box 3161, Idyllwild, CA 92549; telephone - (909)659-3897; email - hcpick@idyllwild.com