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'This Is Gary McFarland'

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In today's Wall Street Journal, I write about Gary McFarland, one of the most dynamic and charismatic jazz arrangers of the 1960s (go here). McFarland died 43 years ago this week when he consumed liquid methodone at 55 Bar on New York's Christopher Street. It's unclear whether the methadone was slipped into his drink without his knowledge or he was urged to drink it by his two drinking buddies. Whatever the case, McFarland died of a heart attack not long after consuming the synthetic heroin, while one of his friends, writer David Burnett, slipped into a coma and died days later. Only drummer Gene Gammage survived, but barely. Today, his whereabouts are unknown.

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Now, a new CD/DVD set of McFarland's music and a 2006 documentary about his life is being released today—This Is Gary McFarland: The Jazz Legend Who Should Have Been a Pop Star (Century 67) (go here). The CD features a previously unreleased live recording of the Gary McFarland Quintet in 1965 while the DVD documentary includes rare film of McFarland as well as interviews with his widow, Gene Lees and many others. The film looks at McFarland's career as well as his poisoning.

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Rather than get into much more on McFarland's biography, since it's all in today's WSJ and in the new CD/DVD set, I thought I'd turn you on to the genius of his music:

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Here's McFarland's arrangement of Weep, recoded by the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band in 1961...

Weep

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Here's Anita O'Day singing A Woman Alone With the Blues in October 1961...

A Woman Alone With the Blues


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Here's McFarland's I Believe in You from his album, How to Succeed in Business (1961)...

I Believe In You

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Here's Stan Getz with McFarland's arrangement of Bim Bom from Getz's Big Band Bossa Nova (1962)...

Bim Bom

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Here's Nancy Harrow singing Song for the Dreamer, with McFarland's arrangement and Phil Woods on clarinet...

Song for the Dreamer

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Here's Bill Evans playing Peachtree from The Gary McFarland Orchestra With Bill Evans (1963)...

Peachtree

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Here's I Love to Say Her Name from McFarland's Point of Departure(1963)...

I Love to Say Her Name

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Here's Ringo from Soft Samba (1964), which introduced Gary's humming style of vocalese and whistling while playing vibes. Producer Creed Taylor was the first to overhear Gary accompanying himself and urged him to do it on the album...

Ringo

Here's Shirley Scott playing Dreamsville with McFarland's string arrangement on Latin Shadows (1965)...

 

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Here's McFarland's arrangement and whistling on I Concenrate on Youfrom The 'In' Sound (1965)...

I Concentrate on You

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Here's McFarland and flugelhornist Clark Terry on Acapulco at Nightfrom Tijuana Jazz (1965)...

Acapulco at Night

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Here's McFarland singing and Gabor Szabo playing Hey, Here's a Heartfrom Sympatio (1966)...

Hey, Here's a Heart

Here's St. Tropez Shuttle from October Suite (1966) featuring pianist Steve Kuhn...

 

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Here's Zoot Sims with McFarland's arrangement of It's a Blue World from Sims' Waiting Game (1966)...

It's a Blue World

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Here's Thanks But No Thanks (Gemini) from McFarland's Scorpio and Other Signs (1968)...

Thanks, But No Thanks (Gemini)

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Here's McFarland's arrangement of the Beach Boys' God Only Knows from Does the Sun Really Shine on the Moon?  (1968)...

God Only Knows

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Here's Amazon from Solar Heat (1968)...

Amazon

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Here's Last Rites for the Promised Land from McFarland's America the Beautiful (1968)...

Last Rites for the Promised Land

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Here's the Beatles' Beacuase from Today (1969)...

Because

 

 
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Here's By the Sea, from Genesis, an album recorded by Wendy & Bonnie, a singing sister duo, in 1969...

 

By the Sea

And here's Lena Horne singing McFarland's arrangement of Watch What Happens, with guitarist Gabor Szabo and organist Richard Tee (1969)...