Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Horns: Two Tributes to Trumpeters

David Wilcox: Chet Baker's Swan Song


Sheryl Crown: We Do What We Can


Two smooth, moody bittersweet ballads of talent lost to the ages -- one nominally folk, the other pop -- which adopt jazz trope and trumpet as a mechanism for paying tribute to beloved jazz trumpet players.

David Wilcox' first person paean to Chet Baker, who struggled with drug addiction for much of his career, paints him as helpless and desperate; the sweet jazzfolk approach effectively evokes both Chet's typically sultry sound and the languid, surface-smooth heroin dreams which many believe prompted him to end his life by leaping off the balcony of a Amsterdam hotel room.

Meanwhile, popster Sheryl Crow dwells in the memory of her father as a frustrated jazzman and lawyer; the faint, high trumpet notes which underscore the arrangement are a subtle wail of lost promise, but the way they waft through the song like the tendrils of memory is perfect for the neo-noir subject treatment.

Interestingly, in addition to similarities of trumpet, trumpeter, tone and tempo, both of these songs are their respective albums' penultimate track; in each case, they are followed by a simple, equally slow song of hope and faith. Coincidence?

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