Friday, May 13, 2011

Speaking in Tongues: Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio)


Jim Hall: Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio)


Like many good tales, this one starts with a garden.

The gardens at the Palacio Real de Aranjuez, to be precise. The Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo wrote this concerto for guitar and orchestra in 1939 to celebrate and evoke the feel of these gardens. The original piece was a success, but not much known outside Spain.

Twenty years later, Gil Evans, another composer and arranger who'd formed a successful partnership with trumpet virtuoso Miles Davis, brought him the concerto's second movement (the Adagio). Miles loved it as much as Evans did and made it the centerpiece of his 1960 album Sketches of Spain.

This version I'm sharing was released in 1975 by the brilliant jazz guitarist Jim Hall. Since it showcases the guitar, it might be closer to the original than the 1960 version. It features a terrific supporting cast: Chet Baker, trumpet; Paul Desmond, sax; Roland Hanna, piano; Ron Carter, bass; and Steve Gadd, drums. And it may be a little sacrilegious to say, but I think I like this version a little bit better than Miles'.

Warning: long song is long. Just short of 20 minutes long. Worth every minute, though.

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