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Don Shirley - Show Tunes
Cadence CLP3036 [1960]

IGOR STRAVINSKY: "His virtuosity is worthy of Gods."
BENTLEY STEGNER, Chicago Sun-Times: "He can play big round notes that fall as softly as velvet, or make bright, little ones leap up like the tinkle of ice in a glass."
SARAH VAUGHAN: "The most glorious sense of shading, phrasing and balance I've ever heard."
AL "JAZZBO" COLLINS: ". . . of all the things that might be consigned him, he is most nearly to become the artist embodying the suffusion of the classics and the modern. . ."

1. My Funny Valentine
Recorded at Webster Hall, New York May 7, 1955, Bass: Richard Davis
2. Love For Sale
Recorded at Webster Hall, New York December 20, 1955 Bass: Richard Davis
3. Bewitched
Recorded at Capitol Studios, New York July 15, 1957,
4. September Song
Recorded at Capitol Studios, New York October 21, 1957, Basses: Jim Bond and Kenneth Frisker
5. Dancing On The Ceiling
Recorded at Webster Hall, New York May 7, 1955, Bass: Richard Davis
6. Medley From "New Faces":
Love Is A Simple Thing I'm In Love With Miss Logan Monotonous Bal Petit Bal Boston Beguine.  Recorded at Webster Hall, New York May 7, 1955, Bass: Richard Davis
7. And This Is My Beloved
Recorded at Capitol Studios, New York July 15, 1957
8. Blue Moon

Recorded at Webster Hall, New York December 20, 1955 Bass: Richard Davis


Reissued on
Collectable Jazz Classics

Back cover:
It is impossible to describe Don Shirley's music without analyzing Don himself; and in analyzing, we tend to categorize because we then have a ready frame of reference. Although our age may not have produced the Renaissance Man, Don Shirley probably comes as close as any other human being in our time to that ideal. His musical talents could almost be overlooked from an academic standpoint if one realizes that, in addition to his Doctorate in Music, he is the holder of Doctorates in Psychology and Liturgical Arts, speaks eight languages fluently, and is considered an expert painter as well.
Like most musicians who are true innovators, Don Shirley the arranger-composer has always been classified in various pigeonholes such as "Jazz," "Classical," "Jazz-oriented Classical" or "Classically-oriented Jazz," but always half-heartedly and with many reservations. His work cannot be catalogued in a particular school of musical composition. Each song is more than just a new arrangement; it is a composition in itself, using the familiar song melody as part of its framework. Though the melodic and harmonic structure of a song by Jimmy McHugh may suggest to Don Nineteenth Century romanticism and not Twentieth Century Hollywood, the melody is always there forming the basic fabric of his arrangement, at the same time inspiring counter-melodies.
Don's piano style reflects many different influences, yet these are all governed by his own inscrutable and unyielding individuality. He may suddenly quote the familiar style of Garner or Ellington or Shearing. Still these polite tributes are never more than just that, for this is one more device of Don's using his music to create the atmosphere he chooses. "There are three ways to enjoy or to interpret music, from a listening point of view: emotionally, intellectually, and a combination of the two. I have tried to utilize all three, contingent upon the quality of the tune chosen." His choice of using the piano as a stringed rather than as a percussion instrument gives him a flexible and marvelously expressive voice to combine emotion and intellect in the subtlest way.
The extent of Don's formal training is clearly revealed in his fabulous technic. He began playing piano at the age of 21/2, and by the time he was 9 he had been invited to study at the Leningrad Conservatory, where he was to spend a great part of his youth. And yet he was to abandon the piano while still quite young.
It was while in Chicago as a psychologist that Don "tripped" back into a musical career. He was given a grant to study the 'relationship, if any, between music and a juvenile crime wave which had suddenly broken out in the early 1950's. Working in a small club there, he used his knowledge and skill to perform experiments in sound, whereby he proved that certain tonal combinations affected the audience's reactions. No one in the audience knew of his experiment, or that students had been planted among them to gauge their reactions.
But. Don Shirley the pianist became a sensation. Appearances in New York followed, notably at the Basin Street, where Duke Ellington first heard him. Here started their warm friendship which was highlighted by Don's performance in 1955 of the premiere of the Duke's Piano Concerto at Carnegie Hall with the NBC Symphony of the Air. An appearance on the Arthur Godfrey Show Lunched his career nationwide.
Don has composed three symphonies, two piano concerti, a cello concerto, three string quartets, a one-act opera, works for organ, piano and violin, a symphonic tone poem based on "Finnegan's Wake" and a set of "Variations" on the legend of Orpheus in the Underworld.
All indications seem to be that Don Shirley's favorite career is that of musician, and his material that of our country, our time, and the richness of a many-faceted personality.
An album of show tunes seems quite appropriate for one whose first public performance was at the age of three. In those early years of his child prodigy career, Don solved the problem .of comprehending technical musical terms by associating specific sounds with certain inanimate objects. When he heard the key of 'E Flat Major', for example, the young pianist immediately thought of a bright red apple. 'A Major' was a key related to a pink church, and 'D Flat Major' to the black of railroad tracks. 'B Major' was the lovely blue of Turquoise Bay in his native Montego, Jamaica—and when one hears this same color mood developed in Don's 'B Major.' version of Dancing On The Ceiling, the listener cannot help but observe that this method was as successful as it was ingenious.
Taken from the 1932 British production Evergreen, Dancing On The Ceiling was Don's initial effort in the popular idiom. It is really more of a composition than an arrangement—more Don Shirley than Richard Rodgers. The bass part, with a theme of its own, could serve as the complete melody if inverted and played in one of the upper voices. Notice how the same bass resembles a harp in Don's treatment of Blue Moon. This song, which is the only Rodgers and Hart work never to appear in either a film or musical, shows us Don Shirley the impressionist. An educated musical ear may detect in the song's development a strong influence of Ravel—including a direct quote from the French composer's "Gaspard de la Nuit."
The curtain raiser to this show tune album, My Funny Valentine was introduced in the 1937 Rodgers and Hart Musical, Babes In Arms. It is performed here without use of the pedal —a unique feat which adds immensely to the clarity of the work.
Don's arrangement of September Song, from Kurt Weill's first American success, Knickerbocker Holiday (1938), was inspired by Walter Huston's interpretation. The treatment here is a beautiful portrayal of old age through the medium of the piano—hence the Delius-like formlessness, implying the lack of form in the wisdom of old age.
New Faces of 1952 is performed as a college of wit and invention. In Monotonous and Bal Petit Bal, we hear a clever imitation of Earths Kitt enunciating the vibrata quality of her voice. Another friendly mime is that of Robert Clary's portrayal of the little boy who sings I'm In Love With Miss Logan. Arthur Siegel's Love Is A Simple Thing is effectively used as both an introduction and conclusion to this all-things-to-all-men medley, which includes within its boundaries Boston Beguine, He Tales Off His Income Tax, and Penny Candy.