Dreaming is such a simple act. Everyone does it, whether they remember it or not. When it gets translated into music, it can take on many moods. It can go from a sweet and gentle to inflamed passions with the lick of a jazzy guitar. Drumbeats evoke dances, and the yowl of a sax can give nightmares.
When I started thinking about dreams in jazz, it was back in 1998 when I was trying to find three songs to put together for Rick O’Dell’s old Dreamset segment on WNUA. At my desk in a downtown high-rise office, I listened and I kept notes. I have the dated page I kept for just that purpose. Web crawlers weren’t that efficient back then, and there were no playlists posted. So to assist my brain, I had a notebook divided into various themes: happy love, sad love, divorce songs, food, sports, etc. When I heard things that I liked and fit the categories, on the paper they would go.
For me I have always found that the third song to be the hardest to find when doing a theme. I was trying to round out the "dream combo" with a nice horn instrumental, but I was having buzzards' luck.
I had Vanessa Williams' "Dreaming"firmly in mind, along with Keiko Matsui’s "Dreamwalk." As a matter of fact, "Dreamwalk" is a popular title, with both Peter White and Bob James jazzing it up in two totally different songs, but sadly they are not sax men. They went on the paper, but I didn’t include them in the set.
When I heard Larry Carlton play "Sleepwalk" on his guitar, I was thrilled, but it’s not what I needed. Yanni had a cut that called "One Man's Dream," but not enough brass for my purpose. Manhattan Transfer sang with James Taylor to jazz up the 50’s hit "Dream Lover," but even with plenty of scatting, they still didn’t have that sax punch.
I reached into my CD box for Rick Braun, hoping that his trumpet could be a good substitute for the sax. On Intimate Secrets, my first and favorite CD of his, there are four tunes that could be used. "In a Dream" was too long and "The Guardian of the Dreamer" had the right name in the title but not the right punch to end the set. "Midnight Caller" is my favorite cut, but a call at midnight is the kind of thing that ruins dreams, so I let it pass. And the cut that the CD was named for, "Intimate Secrets," could be interpreted as a dream, yet it didn’t seem right either. I put the notebook away and forgot about the Dreamy Dreamset.
Sadly, like so many other dreams, the Dreamset is a now whisper in the ether. Yet, in the light of an internet morning, while cleaning out a box of office supplies, I found the old notebooks. And as serendipity would have it, the SmoothJazzChicago.net playlist was showing just the song I needed to round out my trio! Kim Waters sexy sax on "Dreaming of You." Finally, I could say "Jazz Bingo" and toss out the paper! Thanks so much TuneGenie. Where were youwhen I needed you back in the 1990s?
~Lydia Barnes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Another Dreamset-worthy track--from Dave Koz.