Independence Day With Fischer and Cohn

Happy 4th of JulyToday, the United States of America is celebrating the 238th anniversary of its independence. Rifftides observes the 4th of July with two versions of the song that many Americans wish was the national anthem. Pianist Clare Fischer arranged the first for his 1967 album Songs For Rainy Day Lovers. The second version is by tenor saxophonist Al Cohn with Barry Harris, piano; Sam Jones, bass; and Leroy Williams, drums.

Al Cohn's'America

footnote: AlHarris Trio w Cohn Cohn recorded “America The Beautiful” in 1976 as part of his Xanadu LP Al Cohn’s America. Recently, the Spanish company Gambit reissued the album on CD under Harris’s name, with Cohn identified as a sideman. That doesn’t seem fair to the memory of a great musician, but sometimes the gambits of the reissue game are anything but fair. Whoever gets his name above the title, it’s a major item in Cohn’s discography. Cohn told Bob Blumenthal, who wrote the notes for the original LP, that his inspiration to play “America The Beautiful” came from pianist Jimmy Rowles. Rowles recorded it, also as a bossa nova, in 1968 for this album.

Best wishes for a fine 4th Of July weekend.

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  1. Jim Brown says

    Al is one my very favorite musicians, both as player and arranger, and this is one of his finer recordings. Al plays what I think of as “arranger’s tenor,” which I find VERY interesting.

    The Cohn/Harris sessions produced 2 LPs, and were released on a single CD some years ago. It’s one of my treasures. What matters more than whose name is on the door is the wonderful cross fertilization between these two very lyrical musicians. Barry Harris is also the other half of a fine duo with David Allyn on Don’t Look Back and in a large group with Jack Sheldon on Playing for Change.

  2. Ted O'Reilly says

    A lovely song in the first place, enhanced by these artists. May a Northern Neighbour suggest that it become your national anthem? Much more representative than “bombs bursting in air”…

  3. Don Conner says

    Thanks, Doug, for posting these two salutes to our country. I have both versions of Al’s “America” and also was shocked the non-attribution of Al as leader on the Gambit label. I heard Al play this in person. It’s also available on the Portugese label SPA as twofer recorded in 1982 at the defunct E.J.S club in Atlanta. So can see Al kept the tune in his book up to the bitter end.

  4. Dick Unsworth says

    Thanks a thousand for these two items of patriotism—music at its best, but Clare’s gift brought to the front some many things I lived out, especially the people I worked with when civil rights was going on. I would love to tell you many stories about getting people out of jail or even getting others into jail! To hear these gifts of growth again is a true gem. Thanks Doug. We owe you a bunch, once again.