Sun, 29 November 2009
He will always be the Quiet Beatle. George Harrison stood still in the background of the Fab Four, perhaps the most musically talented, and likely the deepest and most spiritual of the band. Today is the eighth anniversary of his death in 2001 from lung cancer, and Podcast 171 is dedicated to his memory.
Considered one of the greatest guitarists of the rock era,
Nina Simone – “My Sweet Lord/Today is a Killer” from Emergency Ward! The great singer performed a medley of
Joel Harrison – “Within You Without You” from
Frank Sinatra – “Something” from Trilogy: Past, Present and Future. The second most covered Beatles song (after “Yesterday”), attracted a great singer like Sinatra, who called it "the greatest love song ever written" and made it a staple of his live shows.
BeatleJazz - “All Things Must Pass” from All You Need. The title track from Harrison’s three lp solo album that stands, along with John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, as the finest work by an ex-Beatle. The group is Brian Melvin on drums/percussion and David Kikoski on piano. The album added guest spots by Toots Thielemans, Joe Lovano, Richard Bona and Larry Grenadier.
Monty Alexander – title track from Here Comes the Sun. Alexander has a flair for interpreting music from the likes of Bob Marley, and this quartet version of the Beatles classic shows he has a great sense of rhythm and timing. Alexander plays piano, Eugene Wright is on bass, Duffy Jackson plays drums and Montego Joe is on conga drums.
Sat, 28 November 2009
My friend Mary Lou sent me this link, which must be shared with all:
A pair of Johns Hopkins and government scientists have discovered that when jazz musicians improvise, their brains turn off areas linked to self-censoring and inhibition, and turn on those that let self-expression flow.
The joint research, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, and musician volunteers from the Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute, sheds light on the creative improvisation that artists and non-artists use in everyday life, the investigators say.
It appears, they conclude, that jazz musicians create their unique improvised riffs by turning off inhibition and turning up creativity.
The scientists from the University’s School of Medicine and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders describe their curiosity about the possible neurological underpinnings of the almost trance-like state jazz artists enter during spontaneous improvisation.
“When jazz musicians improvise, they often play with eyes closed in a distinctive, personal style that transcends traditional rules of melody and rhythm,” says Charles J. Limb, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a trained jazz saxophonist himself. “It’s a remarkable frame of mind,” he adds, “during which, all of a sudden, the musician is generating music that has never been heard, thought, practiced or played before. What comes out is completely spontaneous.”
Though many recent studies have focused on understanding what parts of a person’s brain are active when listening to music, Limb says few have delved into brain activity while music is being spontaneously composed.
Read the full article at Science Daily.
Category:general -- posted at: 7:36am EDT
Thu, 26 November 2009
We all have much to be thankful for today, and so let us begin the day by sharing the sentiment of this song, written by Irving Berlin and sung by Erin Bode, the Official Song of Thanksgiving Day:
When I'm worried and I can't sleep
Category:general -- posted at: 3:46am EDT
Wed, 25 November 2009
Twenty-four hours to go before the big Thanksgiving feast! What would go better with some turkey than some "Giblet Gravy" courtesy of George Benson.
Those who only know Benson from his smooth jazz or Top 40 recordings don't realize that he was one of the funkiest and fastest guitar slingers in his early days. Here he plays with a team of top notch musicians in 1968 sessions, including Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Certer (bass), Pepper Adams (sax) and Billy Cobham (drums). It's worth noting that three of the four - and Benson as well - are all Miles Davis Alumni.
Click here for a tune well suited to those last minute preparations around the ktichen. Cue it up and let the gravy fly!
Category:general -- posted at: 3:48am EDT
Sun, 22 November 2009
I've blogged about the unique singer-songwriter Jacqui Naylor before, and this weekend I had the pleasure to speak with her in anticipation of her three night run at the Blue Note in New York with her trio.
One of the most versatile performers in jazz today, Ms. Naylor's set is as likely to include reimaginings of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" as it is to have Gershwin tunes. And best of all, she and her trio have found a qay to capture the esence of the Great American Songbook with the groove of Classic Rock with something she calls "acoustic smashing". This takes the lyrics of a classic jazz song - say "Summertime" - and plays it out against the music of a classic rock song - in this case, "Whipping Post".
Interested? Click here and listen to the interview, which includes musical selections including:
"My Funny Valentine" from You Don't Know Jacq. This is not your father's version of the jazz standard. Instead, a violin lead-in takes us to the groove from AC/DC's "Back in Black", while Jacqui croons the familar Rodgers-Hart melody.
"Summertime" from You Don't Know Jacq. As Jaqui points out in the interview, it's the Gershwin Brothers meet the Allman Brothers. And it works!
"Celebrate Early and Often" from You Don't Know Jacq. A Naylor-Art Khu original, which premiered when the singer and her pianist wed two years ago.
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" from Smashed for the Holidays. After a few egg nogs, cue up Jacqui's version of this holiday classic set to the music of "Sweet Home Alabama". The party won't stop dancing.
Jacqui Naylor and her trio play the Blue Note at 131 W 3rd Street New York, New York November 24th-26th at 8pm and 10:30pm. Tickets: $15 Bar / $25 Table. Visit www.bluenote.net or call 212.475.8592.
Fri, 20 November 2009
Miles Davis was working with a large ensemble under the direction of Gil Evans as 1959 came to an end. Captivated by the machismo of bullfighting and charmed by Spanish music,
Two weeks earlier, they had made an attempt to record Miles’ version of Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo’s classical piece for guitar and orchestra, “Concerto De Aranjuez”. Dissatisfied with the results, they adjourned and returned five days later.
Podcast 167 features the result of that session, as well as some background and resulting interpretations of the song. How significant is the recording? Read what Maria Schneider, no slouch as an arranger and conductor, wrote:
This is arguably the finest of Gil's and Miles' collaborations. There are countless details one could highlight, but I would like to touch on ... (one) particular point about this piece. It will be more deeply appreciated if you first take the opportunity to listen to the original guitar concerto as composed by Rodrigo. A comparison will illuminate Gil's unique gifts in writing all parts in a linear fashion. It's most notable that he manages to do this even in the bass line. The bass is never just relegated to playing roots, but rather lines—rich melodic lines. If you listen to the tuba line in the beginning, you'll catch one of these lines right from the start. And if you listen to the bottom parts throughout this work, you'll see that part of the translucence that Gil generally gets in his music is from freeing up the bottom and putting air in these low parts. Such attention to line-writing permeates every layer and can be heard throughout this piece.
Click here to follow along as Ms. Schneider suggests, and listen to:
John Williams – "Concerto De Aranjuez" Beginning with one of the great classical guitarists of our time, here is a stripped down version of Rodrigo’s classic composition.
Miles Davis – "Concierto De Aranjuez (adagio)" from Sketches of
Jim Hall - from Concierto. An all-star band does their interpretation of the piece - Jim Hall (Guitar), Chet Baker (trumpet), Paul Desmond (sax), Sir Roland Hanna (Piano), Ron Carter (bass) and Steven Gadd (drums). Arranged for the album by Don Sebensky
Chick Corea & Gonzalo Rubacala – “Concerto De Aranjuez/
Thu, 19 November 2009
How’s this for a swinging session? Fifty years ago today, Dizzy Reece (trumpet) Hank Mobley (tenor sax) Wynton Kelly (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) and Art Taylor (drums) cut six tracks at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in New Jersey that would make up the album Star Bright. All of the players were band leaders in their own right, and Chambers and Kelly had played instrumental roles (pardon the pun) on Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue earlier in the year. Click here to listen to the 22nd take of the day, the aptly titled Reece composition called “Groovesville”.
Category:general -- posted at: 4:44am EDT
Mon, 16 November 2009
I couldn’t let the 40th anniversary of “Sesame Street” go by without dropping in a list of famous jazz musicans who have swung through the block during the venerable show’s time on PBS:
Ray Barretto: Appeared in the mid-‘70s to explain Latin rhythm.
One of the greatest jazz appearances – a Buddy Rich versus Animal drum duel – did not appear on “Sesame Street”, but on “The Muppet Show”, making it ineligible for inclusion.
For me, the best musical moment came when Hoots the Owl schooled Ernie on what it takes to play the saxophone. Click here and enjoy the video of “Put Down the Duckie”. How many celebrities can YOU name making cameos in the clip?
Category:general -- posted at: 3:37am EDT
Sat, 14 November 2009
Old friend (and bass master) David Chevan dropped me an email this week to remind me of another major project making its premiere this weekend:
This coming Saturday and Monday, The Afro-Semitic Experience
As a bonus for his friends and fans, David has given us an mp3 of a track not included on the CD, which can now be ordered from Amazon. Click here to listen to "Heaven's Gate", and prepare for another exciting and moving release from an unjustly underrated band.
Category:general -- posted at: 5:13am EDT
Wed, 11 November 2009
ECM has always presented the finest European jazz musicians, and those from
Garbarek had won a competition for amateur jazz players back in 1962, leading to his first gigs. He worked steadily in
In the studio, Garbarek tends never to use more notes than he deems necessary, and allows silence and space to have their places in his solos. As a result, his recordings as a leader are often deeply meditative and spiritual, with his longer solos often compared to Islamic prayer calls. He also is never afraid to record in solo or duo settings, working memorably with guitarist Ralph Towner, as have other ECM label mates.
His most recent release, a live album recorded in
Category:general -- posted at: 4:41am EDT