Listen: Frank Sinatra – "They
Can't Take that Away from Me"
Listen: Frank Sinatra – "Get
The popular songs of Broadway and Tin Pan Alley in the 1930s and
40s are a huge part of any jazz musician’s repertoire, and
nobody sang these timeless melodies and witty, urbane lyrics better
than Frank Sinatra. With impeccable timing, a mellifluous voice,
and boundless charisma, Sinatra came to personify the sophistication
and style of the music we now call the Great American Songbook—the
same tunes that provided the launching point for the daring improvisations
of bebop artists like Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk. Although
they might seem to occupy different ends of the jazz spectrum, modern
jazz pioneers from Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins to Joe Lovano and
John Zorn have acknowledged Sinatra as a major influence. The Stanford
Jazz Festival’s tribute to the life and music of Ol' Blue Eyes
features an extraordinary group of musicians who honor the legacy
of Sinatra’s golden age while carrying it into the future:
trombonist/vocalist Danny Grewen, multi-reed master Jim Rothermel,
saxophonist Noel Jewkes, pianist Larry Dunlap, bassist Seward McCain,
and drummer David Rokeach.
“Larry Dunlap… (is) a remarkable
and versatile accompanist… one
of the best jazz pianists around — anywhere”
Supported in part by Bruce Powell, Gene & Patricia Carter.
Q&A with Larry Dunlap
What is the first recording you remember hearing as a child?
The first recording was maybe a Little Orly children’s record
or perhaps a very clever story with song parodies called “Hey,
Hey, Out Of My Way”. The first jazz record I remember was We
Three by Phineas Newborn, Paul Chambers and Roy Haynes. This
is still one of my favorite recordings.
What job would you have if you weren't a jazz musician?
I would try my hand at writing novels, probably in the horror genre.
What’s the strangest experience you've ever had on
I actually fell asleep on a solo piano gig playing background music
for a big dinner and continued playing.
What's your favorite food?
Indian Food and tapioca.
What's the most exotic place you've traveled to as a musician?
Jakarta, Indonesia with vocalist Mark Murphy. I traveled onto Bali,
perhaps the most interesting place I have spent time.
What's the last book you've read?
I read a lot in many different genres. Most recently I have read Bad
Men by John Connolly, a thriller mixing crime and the supernatural
on an isolated island off the coast of Maine.
If you could play with any other musician, living or dead
(with whom you have not played), who would it be and why?
I feel a very strong connection to the music of Ivan Lins. I consider
him a friend, but we have never played music together. His music
is always profoundly melodic with surprising harmonic movement that
seems very natural and intuitive. Not jazz, but a music that is very
close to my heart. One of my greatest musical pleasures is playing
new music the first time it is heard. I would love to have played
new music with and by Gil Evans or Gary McFarland.
What's your favorite jazz venue?
Currently Yoshi’s Oakland, but I loved the original Yoshi’s
even more. It had a warmth and intimacy that has not been equaled.
The most fun place I have played is a small club in Tokyo called
Who is your greatest musical influence?
Herbie Hancock. He’s continually innovative and probing, while
remaining accessible and warm.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have
three recordings with you, what would they be? We Three (Phineas Newborn, Paul Chambers, Roy Haynes) Sweet Rain (Stan Getz, Chick Corea, Ron Carter, Roy Haynes) The Sandpiper Soundtrack (Johnny Mandel, featuring Jack
I have listened to all of these countless times.
How much do you practice each week?
I almost never actually practice, but I sight-read and play a lot.
What hobbies do you have?
I read and watch movies. I also hike as much as I can. I love nature.
I love traveling when I can afford it.
If you could be any other type of artist other than a jazz
musician, what would you be and why?
I would (and do) compose in non-jazz styles for groups large and
small. Jazz is only one type of music that I enjoy.
When did you become interested in music, and what circumstances
or events led to your becoming a professional musician?
Members of my family have all been very involved with music, but
I am the only one who has followed a jazz path. Other family members
performed classical and church music as well as barbershop quartet
and choral music. I studied classical piano from the age of four,
but not with my mother who was a wonderful piano teacher. A band
director in the fourth through the seventh grade was a jazz musician
and gave me my early jazz education, including many scores from Downbeat
Magazine that gave a good foundation in arranging. (I played baritone
horn in the band.) My high school band director gave me my first
jobs as a side musician in a band that he worked with. I began playing
dance jobs in high school and working with jazz groups in college.
If you were to describe your music as a color, what color
would it be and why?
Every sound, almost every note, is a different color to me.