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Songs for Dad: Father's Day Jazz

Horace Silver on the cover of his record <em>Song for My Father.</em>
Courtesy of Blue Note
Horace Silver on the cover of his record Song for My Father.

Sunday is Father's Day. If you're a dad, congratulations; these songs are for you. If you're a son or a daughter, here's a list of dad-friendly jazz songs to let your father know you're thinking of him.

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Songs for Dad: Father's Day Jazz

Horace Silver

"Song for My Father"

From 'Song for My Father'

Any list of jazz songs about fathers has to begin with this classic from 1964. Pianist and composer Horace Silver went all-out for his dad with this one. Not only did he write and record a song that would go on to become a jazz standard (and later inspire the bass line for Steely Dan's "Rikki, Don't Lose That Number"), but he also put his father's picture on the album cover. Now that's a good son.

David Arnay

"Daddy's Groove"

From 'Daddy's Groove'

Here's one for a father with hop left in his hip. Recorded in 1997 by Los Angeles-based pianist, composer, and educator David Arnay, this song does indeed have a fine groove. It might even inspire Dad to dance, which can't be said of, say, a gift certificate to a hardware store. Purchase Daddy's Groove.

Brad Mehldau

"Old Man"

From 'Space Cowboys'

Brad Mehldau is one of today's most acclaimed jazz pianists, but many of his fans might not have heard this beautiful version of Neil Young's poignant "Old Man," given that it was only released as a part of the soundtrack to Clint Eastwood's film Space Cowboys. Just in case you missed it, here it is.

Cannonball Adderley

"One for Daddy-O"

From 'Somethin' Else [RVG Edition]'

"One for Daddy-O" is a laid-back blues song performed by five jazz legends: Cannonball Adderley (alto sax), Miles Davis (trumpet), Hank Jones (piano), Art Blakey (drums), and Sam Jones (bass). In this selection from an album which has become a classic example of cool, late-'50s bop, all the participants are in top form. Their playing makes it apparent that they're enjoying each other's company immensely.

Louis Armstrong

"I'm a Ding Dong Daddy (From Dumas)"

From 'Louis Armstrong Collection, Vol. 6: St. Louis Blues'

Much has been written about the genius of Louis Armstrong and his enduring impact on jazz. Let's not forget, though, that Armstrong could also pack more joy into a three-minute song than almost anyone else. Early in this 1930 vocal performance, he gleefully announces that he's forgotten the words to the song, and then he launches into spirited scat singing. He follows that with a trumpet solo which contains passages that rank right up there with his famous rubato introduction to "West End Blues." It's a timeless delight for Father's Day, from the man many people called "Pops."

Nick Morrison