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Wagner Takes The A Train / Valerie Capers


Release Date: 02/13/1999 
Label:  Elysium   Catalog #: 715  
Composer:  Valerie CapersThelonious MonkEden AhbezBobby Timmons,   ... 
Performer:  Valerie CapersEarl WilliamsJohn RobinsonAlan Givens,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Valerie Capers was a classical pianist before she came to jazz music. But the classical background with its very structured, "non-improvising" setting, has limited neither Capers' credentials nor her skills as a jazz pianist. At the same time, she is not at all reluctant to take advantage of her classical training to enhance her interpretation of jazz music. Thus, Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" is played as a variation on a theme -- in bop, swing, classical sonata, and Latin modes. "Wagner Takes the 'A' Train" is a highlight of the album. The liner notes would have you believe that there is some relationship between Capers' interpretation of Billy Strayhorn's song to the 29 motifs of Wagner's "Ring Read more Cycle." But it comes off far less sophisticated and complicated than that. Rather, this is a hard-driving, swinging set with Al Givens' Ben Webster-like sax leading the way with Capers. This is the Ben Webster from the 1940s Ellington Orchestra, not the breathy Webster of later years. Capers gives Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'" a rousing rendering with a touch of blues. Of all the cuts, her own "Organum" is done classical style, complete with some very heavy cello-like bass bowing from John Robinson and more than a few runs and arpeggios from Capers.

In the tradition of Nina Simone, Shirley Horn, Jeri Southern, and Blossom Dearie, among others, Capers sings as well as plays piano. Her deep, heavy voice has a maternal tone about it, making the listener feel very comfortable and at ease with her renditions of "Nature Boy" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me." "Nature Boy" is sung in both French and English to a Latin beat! Capers delivers her own poignant ballad "Always You" with sensitivity and feeling. Givens' tenor is also prominent on this piece. "My One and Only Love" is perfect for Capers' understated, sensitive vocal style. Her voice, with just Mark Martino's guitar behind her, reinvigorates the Guy Wood/Robert Mellin. Another feature which places this album above the ordinary is the outstanding sidemen and the support they give Capers. Sax player Givens has already been mentioned, as has "Martino." John Robinson, who appeared with Capers on her 1995 release Come on Home, has "Mood Indigo" virtually all to himself with some help from Earl Williams' drums. His six-minute plus bass solo is a tour de force. In addition to their blue ribbon soloing, when Capers is "on" the sidemen are supportive, not intrusive. This is a very unique, entertaining album with very good music played by accomplished musicians.

-- Dave Nathan, AllMusic.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Wagner Takes the A Train by Valerie Capers
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
Notes: Based on Strayhorn's "Take the A Train" and themes from Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen
2.
Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
3.
Nature Boy by Eden Ahbez
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
4.
Moanin' by Bobby Timmons
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
5.
Always You by Valerie Capers
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
6.
Shall We Dance: They can't take that away from me by George Gershwin
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936-1937; USA 
7.
Mood Indigo by Edward "Duke" Ellington
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; New York, USA 
8.
My One and Only Love by Guy Wood
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
9.
Organum by Valerie Capers
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
10.
Winter's Love by Valerie Capers
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble
Notes: This is an arrangement of themes from Wagner's Die Walküre
11.
Confirmation by Charlie Parker
Performer:  Valerie Capers (Piano), Earl Williams (Drums), John Robinson (Double Bass),
Alan Givens (Saxophone), Valerie Capers (Voice), Mark Marino (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valerie Capers Jazz Ensemble

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