Some musicians shine in the studio but don’t quite have what it takes live and on stage. Here are some male performers who could/can do both. Women to follow shortly.
FLY ME TO THE MOON/FRANK SINATRA
Who and what is “cool”? That reminds me of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s comment about pornography and obscenity: “I know it when I see it.” What’s “cool”? Watch this. Sinatra was so at ease with himself, so subtle. A flick of his head, a slight movement of his shoulders, a swinging style and a great storyteller.
TUPELO HONEY/VAN MORRISON
Some of Van Morrison’s performances move me like no other artist. Listen to this one, which includes an incredibly inspired solo by saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis.
TO BE LOVED/LONELY TEARDROPS/ ALONE AT LAST JACKIE WILSON
Before there was Michael Jackson there was James Brown and before Brown there was Jackie Wilson. Known as Mr. Entertainment, Wilson could dance and sing like few others. Here, Wilson’s brilliant multi-octave tenor is on display.
TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS/OTIS REDDING
Otis Redding was a major figure in soul and R and B during the early and mid-sixties. First recognized for his soulful and highly energized live performances, Redding soon became a major recording artist. His last hit, Dock of the Bay, was recorded a few days before his death in late 1967 and released in early 1968. Redding died in a plane crash at the age of twenty-six. Here’s Otis and “Try A Little Tenderness” performed during one of his fabulously successful European tours.
SO WHAT/MILES DAVIS AND JOHN COLTRANE
In the mid-fifties Miles Davis lead a small band, which included the young saxophonist, John Coltrane. Their music changed the course of jazz. In this video both are featured in “So What” a song from Miles’ seminal album Kind of Blue. The best selling jazz album of all time is also, arguably, one of he most influential musical works ever produced. While Miles and Trane made incredible music there were times when Miles would become impatient with Coltrane’s lengthy solos. Coltrane would respond to Miles exasperation with, “I don’t know how to stop ,” to which Miles would respond, “Just take the effin horn out of your mouth.”
NESSUN DORMA/LUCIANO PAVAROTTI
And what was the best live performance I ever attended? Not even close. Listen to this now popular video of Luciano Pavarotti. Adults, dressed to the nines, were standing on their seats, cheering. Never saw anything like it. It still raises the hair on my arms when I listen to it.
Written and compiled by Charles R. Hale.