If I Only Had A Brain
A recent news item about AI robot Desdomona leads us this month to two versions of Harold Arlen's song If I Only Had A Brain from The Wizard Of Oz. - Dorothy meets the Scarcrow in this extract from the film.
I could while away the hours
Conferrin' with the flowers,
Consulting with the rain;
And my head I'd be a scratchin'
While my thoughts are busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain.
Our Take Two item aims to feature two different takes on a tune. If I Only Had A Brain seems to be favoured by trombonists following a recording by Carl Fontana who appears in this video of him playing with the WDR Big Band, but our first 'take' features a video of the trombone section of the Sant Andreas Jazz Band directed by bass player Joan Chamorro. The young trombone players lead us in before trombonist Carlos Martin and pianist Joan Monné take the solos. The video is here.
Our second 'take' comes from the Steffan Mathes Quartett featuring Hungarian saxophonist Tony Lakatos. Perhaps Tony is not well known in the UK, but born in 1958 to a musical family in Budapest, his father was a famous gipsy violinist as was his younger brother, Roby. Tony began playing the violin at the age of six and then the saxophone when he was fifteen years old. He became a professional musician when he won a national jazz competition in 1977. He graduated from the jazz department of the Bela Bartók Conservatory, Budapest in 1979. Shortly after he moved to Germany in 1981 where he became one of their most respected saxophone players. This video is a good introduction to his playing. German trumpeter Steffan Mathes was born in Heppenheim in 1987 and also started young, picking up a trumpet when he was three. He won the solo category at the state competition Jugend jazzt twice and in 2012 he completed his Bachelor’s degree in jazz and popular music at the Mannheim State University of Music and Performing Arts with Stephan Zimmermann. Since 2010, Steffan has been a regular member of the Tobias Becker Big Band, with whom he has released several albums, and he first founded his Quartet in 2013.
Their video of If I Only Had A Brain is here.
"Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain," says the Wizard of Oz as he presents the Scarecrow here with a rolled up parchment/diploma for Doctor of Thinkology.