Red Mitchell

Simple Isn't Easy


The late Red Mitchell composed and penned the lyrics for a song entitled 'Simple Isn't Easy" the title track of an album of the same name. 


Red was a man who knew a thing or to about jazz. For there exists in the mind of those aspiring - or those perhaps wanting to aspire - the delusion that Simple = Easy.


Take yourself off to the average 'Open Mike' just about anywhere in the world and I will guarantee your will find vocalists - both male an female - suffering from the delusion that 'Summertime' is an easy song to perform. Oh dear ! When in fact the opposite is the case. A song such as the much abused 'Summertime' requires real talent and experience to perform in a convincing manner.


I once wrote a piece about this beautiful melody being one of the most abused tunes in the jazz repertoire. A good friend of mine, a bass player with a real knowledge of jazz history, came up with notion that it might make a good theme for a performed exploration: An Evening Of The Most Abused Tunes In Jazz.


Another man a knew well who had an interesting and varied life started out as an figurative artist. Became a dancer on the West End Stage. Then became a very accomplished jazz drummer. Spent the later part of his life painting. I remember well him saying to me "When you start out to learn to play the drums all you want to do is just beat the hell out of them without thinking about it. You move on from this and spend years of study and practice so you can get back to your original premise to just beat the hell out of them without thinking about it.". Wise words I think and universally applicable.

Arguably playing a ballad with authority is a much more difficult thing to do than this or that at two hundred and fifty beats a minute. Red Mitchell was right simplicity is only achieved though blood, sweat, and maybe tears.




Would be interested to hear about your own candidate for the title of - The Most Abused Tune in the jazz repertoire.