Monday, April 23, 2012

You Stepped Out A Dream/Chick’s Tune


© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

According to the musicologist K.J. McElrath, the songYou Stepped Out of A Dream, which was written by Nacio Herb Brown and Gus Kahn for the 1941 film, Ziegfeld Girl, … “has one of the most exotic and wandering harmonic progressions in the repertoire.  Although starting and ending on C major, this piece takes unusual twists and turns that seem to deliberately avoid settling on any one key for any length of time.”

Mr. McElrath goes on to say that “the movement within the tune is characterized by long, sustained tones and slow, harmonic rhythm. The melodic line gradually rises a third by step and then leaps up a sixth. The descent is by leaps.”

Maybe all of these unusual “twists and turns” is what makes the tune attractive to Jazz musicians, especially tenor saxophonists like Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Teddy Edwards, Warne Marsh and Brew Moore, all of whom recorded notable versions of it.

Jazz musicians often look for unusual tunes with interesting structures and chords so that they can alter the melody while retaining the song’s unique qualities as the basis for improvisation.

Such was the case when the young pianist, Chick Corea, encountered You Stepped Out of A Dream and superimposed a different melody while renaming it Chick Tune for its debut on trumpeter Blue Mitchell’s debut album for Blue Note entitled – The Thing To Do [BST-84178]

Jazz author and critic Bob Blumenthal explains it this way in his notes to The Complete Blue Note Blue Mitchell Sessions [1963-1969] [Mosaic Records MD4-178]

“Mitchell's first Blue Note release concluded with Corea's first recorded composition, a very creative take on the YOU STEPPED OUT OF A DREAM chord sequence with the decid­edly less imaginative title chick's tune. After [drummer Al] Foster's introduction, the complex theme is developed with a variety of supporting rhythmic feelings, including Latin, cut-time and stop-time.

The composer goes first here, buoyed by a ferocious [bassist Gene]Taylor - Foster groove. Corea sprinkles some [Horace] Silver-isms around his second chorus and sounds as if he was prepared to give way after chorus three before quickly extending his improvisation with a fourth chorus that alludes to another of his favorite pianists, Thelonious Monk.

[Tenor saxophonist Junior] Cook plays with great invention and continuity, reminding us that he relished a good set of chord changes and knew how to navigate his way through them while also sustaining a rhythmic dialogue with the drums.

Mitchell is more about singing and sound, though he, too, has a great hookup with Foster. Two choruses of eight-bar exchanges between the horns and the drummer help bring the track and the album to a rousing finale.”

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles in association with the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz LTD has put together two videos that will offer you a chance to compare and contrast the original tune - You Stepped Out of A Dream – as played by tenor saxophonist Brew Moore, along with Lars Gullin on baritone saxophone – and the Chick Corea version of as featured on the 1962 Blue Mitchell recording of Chick’s Tune.

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