Anything about Elvis
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How about Elvis and jazz?

Fri May 23, 2003 12:36 am

Did Elvis ever record any songs that are considered jazz?


Fri May 23, 2003 12:53 am

Darrell -

Not what any bona fide jazz afficionado would call jazz.

'City By Night' has a jazzy sort of feel.

'Fever' with its simple bass & drum backing almost strays into the jazz field.

Colin B

Fri May 23, 2003 12:53 am

Strickly speaking, he did not. The guitar solo on the early version of "King Creole" is quite jazzy though.

"Lady, I don't know what the hell you're talking about."

<b>Vince Everett replying to a jazz query in 1957's "Jailhouse Rock"</b>

Fri May 23, 2003 1:53 am

Didn't Elvis say on the Canada interview that Jazz was something he didn't understand? I am going from memory DOC. So please be nice.

Fri May 23, 2003 3:52 am

what about in the intros during his last tour where the band played stuff like Jazzing in Vegas and even Hail,Hail Rock N'roll always had a jazzed out ending??

Fri May 23, 2003 4:34 pm

Elvis said in Canada that he did not understand Orchestral music but he did not knock it.

Hence Richard Strauses "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (2001 music) Fanfare for Elvis Concerts.

Did he have any Jazz in his record collection? Love Letters is a little on the Jazz side . At least my Jazz loving inlaw liked it:-)

Fri May 23, 2003 4:50 pm

I remember hearing that press conference from 1957 when Elvis said that he didn't understand jazz. I remember saying the same thing when I was in my early 20s but I like jazz now. Maybe Elvis changed his mind later as he did have some Duke Ellington in his personal record collection as well as some female jazz singers (don't remember who, though.)

Fri May 23, 2003 5:58 pm

I read somewere Elvis didn't like the "real-hard" Jazz, he more enjoyed the softer Jazz songs. I don't know where I have read this...??? But I don't think he had a lot of Jazz records in his collection.

"I think Love Letters is not a Jazz song but more blues...but that's me :? ..."

Erik van den Berg

Fri May 23, 2003 8:52 pm

Some of the King Creole tracks have a kinda jazzy feel to them. Maybe that's because jazz and blues partly originate from New Orleans.
Chris Barber's jazz and blues band recorded a track called: Bourbon Street Parade. (Bourbon Street being the centre of night life in New Orleans).
Jazz and blues come in a great many variaties.
There certainly is a lot of brass in those King Creole recordings!


Fri May 23, 2003 9:11 pm

Elvis had the following Jazz records in his collection, courtesy of 'Virtual Graceland' CD-ROM -
Barney Kessel Orch - Honey Rock.
Jimmy Dorsey Orch - So Rare; June Night.
Duke Ellington - Newport 1958; Piano In The Foreground.
Acker Bilk - Summer Set.

Fri May 23, 2003 9:17 pm

my appologies buddies, but you're employing the "jazz" term in a very wide sense. City by night and fever have that jazz feeling, King Creole have the dixie jazz feeling blended with blues and or rock and roll.

We speak of jazz when there are no arrangements, when almost all is an impromptu over a given melody. Given that , jazz musicians chose a rythm pattern, unknown or based on a known song, and build a record from that. That is free jazz, or classic jazz. When an orchrestra is added with written charts, we're into swing territory. And so on.

When a voice is added to a combo, we're into vocal jazz. Dinah Washington made a wonderful almost pure jazz record in 1954 (almost pure in the sense that there were some arrangements written by Quincy Jones). Ella Fitzgerald did amazing vocal jazz records, specially the live ones (hear Ella and Duke at the Cote d'Azur, 1966, amongst others.

Billie Holiday made also sensational jazz sides.

Elvis recorded songs, specially Fever and Anyplace is paradise with a jazz feeling, and New Orleans isn't jazz strictly, but elvis phrasing is very jazzie!

When a singer chose an standard and records them with an orchestra in uptempo beat (2/4 or even 4/4) we're usually hearing swing. The best swing records could be "Ella swings brightly with Nelson", "The swingin' miss D" and "sinatra swings for young lovers".

Jazz has many other "arms", such as latin jazz (bossa nova, for example)

well, I guess I'm boring you all...If someone is interested in jazz, you're welcome.

But the conclussion is that elvis ventured in an edulcorated dixie jazz soundtrack (King Creole), but only edulcorated as it was greatly mixed with rock and roll rythm patterns (for a tru Dixieland jazz album, hear Dinah Washington "Sings for Bessie Smith" 1958 album)

And second, Elvis also got into some jazz flavoured songs, such as fever or city by night or anyplace is paradise, but still not true jazz.

Sat May 24, 2003 3:54 am

I am surprised to learn Elvis had Duke Ellington's quintessential "Ellington at Newport" album! I very recently bought the remastered and expanded (including the entire concert + studio tracks) 2cd edition of this legendary concert, "Ellington At Newport 1956 (Complete)" and am enjoying it much the last couple of days. It is an excellent concert with (now) superior stereo sound.

Who would have ever thaught Evis would have been listening to the breathtaking "Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue" at any given moment in time, enjoying tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves' blistering 27 choruses-long tenor sax solo! :shock:

BTW, for those of you unaware of the qualities of jazz music I suggest for starters Ken Burns' 5cd set 'Ken Burns Jazz" or any of the single-disc compilations from the same series focussing on one particular artist. The ones from Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday are certainly worth it for example. Jazz purists hate these collections because Ken Burns has managed to reach a broad audience with these cd's, who would normally not care or know about jazz. They're mad because their "secret" is out to the masses. :)

Sat May 24, 2003 4:04 am

It may be only dixieland jazz but the songs "Dixieland Rocks" and "New Orleans" from King Creole are classic Elvis.

Sat May 24, 2003 4:40 pm

Listen to the intro of My Baby Left Me. It's pretty jazzy!!

Tue May 27, 2003 12:06 am

Frus, (or is it Ivan?),

Thanks for your learned response on the subject of jazz, which you obviously know well.

However, it is my understanding that jazz (like Blues, and country & western, etc.) has many different definitions as well as advocates thereof.
If folks here do use "jazz" in relation to jazz-tinged Elvis tunes, they need no run afoul of definitions of "what is Jazz?" You define jazz as being that of which "... when there are no arrangements, when almost all is an impromptu over a given melody. ..." etc.

But by such defintions, many of the "jazz" songs of artists like Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, and even Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby would be defined away as simply pop tunes with a jazz influence, regardless of what the term "jazz" meant in that era. From perusing "Downbeat" and other sources over the year, I know that not all agree with this tight definitions of "jazz" that would exclude such artists.

So yes, perhaps by now there is a largely agreed upon definition of "jazz," but it still contested territory as to what is "true jazz" as you call it.

For the time being, I'm going to go crank up the bluesy/jazzy Elvis numbers like "New Orleans" and enjoy...!