One of the most remarkable and beautiful melodies in the American Songbook is Victor Young's "Stella by Starlight" - and is also one of the most played jazz standards of the last century. That being said, It is always great to revisit these familiar tunes and try and put new challenges in front of oneself.
Here I am presenting a solo rendition of "Stella" heavily influenced by three of my favorite trombonists: Slide Hampton, Wycliffe Gordon, and Marshall Gilkes. A friend gave me an old bootleg of a Slide gig from sometime in the 80's and it included him playing an extended introduction to a small group version of Stella - what a monster! I never get tired of listening to that, cassette tape hiss and all! I combined that with some of the techniques used by Marshall and Wycliffe when they play solo to try and create my own version. The challenge of presenting a solo rendition of a tune traditionally played in a small group format is twofold - trying to express the composer's intentions while also keeping the performance varied enough to retain the listener's attention.
For those keeping track, I present a rubato introduction, followed by one chorus of the melody embellished, set up the time with a figure borrowed from Slide, one time through the form in time, tag the ending and wrap it up!
This video is part of a concert I presented in Memphis, Tenessee along with pianist Chris Ziemba. It will be available on iTunes and other digital outlets beginning August 19th, 2016! The album is "Nick Finzer & Chris Ziemba Live in Memphis" coming out on the Outside in Music label (www.outsideinmusic.com).
I hope you enjoy, and that you'll share it with your friends and colleagues. I can't wait to hear what you think! Be sure to let me know in the comments.
Until next time-