|composed by Stevie Wonder (Black Bull Music/Jobete Music Co)|
|Bob Sutter||. . . . . piano|
Stevie Wonder is one of my favorite artists. If I had to pick my favorite song of the many great songs he has written, it would be "Overjoyed". His vocal performance of it on the 1985 recording, "In Square Circle" (Tamla) never fails to touch me deeply.
I have a great story about Stevie thanks to my friend Art Davis. Art plays in a group called the Chicago Jazz Orchestra (formerly known as Jazz Members Big Band). As Art tells it, a few years ago the band was making their annual appearance at the Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The great Joe Williams had just passed away and several excellent singers were taking part in a tribute to Joe. Among them was Dianne Schurr, who, after singing her tribute, asked Stevie (who also was in attendance) to come up to the piano and play "Overjoyed". So Stevie sits down at the piano and to the shock and amazement of most every musician within earshot, starts playing "Giant Steps"! (For those who don't know, "Giant Steps" is a masterpiece of jazz composition by John Coltrane that is considered a sort of final exam for a jazz improviser) And he was really playing it...up tempo, making the changes like he'd been playing jazz his entire life. Who knew? The bassist and drummer soon joined in. Eventually Stevie got up from the piano and noneother than Herbie Hancock sat down and continued the fireworks. After the tune was done, apparently Stevie did at last honor Dianne's request and played "Overjoyed".
I idolize Stevie Wonder...his voice, his songwriting, his playing are all amazing, but when I heard this story I was shocked and also very impressed. I do remember reading in an interview he gave many years ago that he wanted to record a jazz project, but I never gave it another thought. When I heard this story, I decided on that very day that I'd better get busy working on "Giant Steps". For the better part of a year, I wrote several etudes to assist me in this study. (read more in the notes on "Strident Steps and "Messiaenic Steps" )
Thank you Stevie for providing me with such incredible inspiration.