Tue, 25 June 2013
Jason Miles was coming of age in New York during the late 1960’s, and he and his friends haunted the concert halls and clubs of the day to catch now-legendary performers. One magic evening he recalled was the night they caught Sly & the Family Stone opening for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. I checked his memory to make sure – May 10, 1968 at the Fillmore East. Not a bad bill! Miles was mesmerized by the funk pioneers, who hit the stage with a mix of performers who were both white and black, and male and female. Their mix of rock and soul music, featuring tunes from the two week old album Dance to the Music, brought the house down.
Forty-five years and over one hundred recordings later – including the synthesizer programming for Miles Davis’ ‘80s masterpieces Tutu, Music From Siesta and Amandla – Jason revisits those sounds with his band Global Noize on Sly Reimagined – The Music of Sly & the Family Stone on the Zoho Roots labe. Miles and Global Noize may be the perfect collection of musicians to tackle the Family Stone repertoire, as they carry on the wonderful concept of mixing race, sex, style, age and genre in one sound that is difficult to pigeonhole. Global Noize will celebrate the CD release with a show at Joe’s Pub in New York on June 26.
Miles has made it his specialty to “reimagine” the classic music of artists as diverse as Ivan Lins, Weather Report, Marvin Gaye and Grover Washington. Sly Reimagined takes this process one step further, as Global Noize lays the foundation for guests like Roberta Flack and Nona Hendryx,to vocalize. Adding further authenticity to the project is the appearance of Greg Errico, the original Family Stone drummer on three tracks.
We talked about the CD and Miles’ views of music and the music and the music business in Podcast 358. Click here to download the podcast, which features musical selections fromt eh album, including:
Global Noize – “It’s a Family Affair – Groove Vibe Version” from Sly Reimagined. It was this song playing on Jason’s iPhone that inspired the whole project. Miles says he heard Roberta Flack singing the song in his mind, so he went out and got her.
Global Noize – “In Time” from Sly Reimagined. Original Sly drummer Greg Errico guests on three tracks on the CD, including this one, which has Nona Hendryx (Labelle, Material) on lead vocals. Nona will join Global Noize on their June 26th gig at Joe’s Pub.
Global Noize – “You Can Make It If You Try” from Sly Imagined. Among the Jazz heavyweights who perform on the CD is trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, a long-time Miles collaborator who lends her horn to two tracks, including this one alongside tenor sax man Jay Rodriguez.
Tue, 25 June 2013
One of my favorite music writers, Dave Marsh, very eloquently discussed the passing of Bobby "Blue" Bland, the highly influential blues/soul singer:
Bobby Bland was, in his prime, the most powerful blues shouter of all time, though capable as well of a caressing tenderness. "Turn On Your Lovelight" is what the rock world knows, I guess, but the man's legacy is also in "Ain't Nothing You Can Do," "Farther Up the Road," "I'll Take Care of You," "I Pity the Fool," "Cry Cry Cry," "If You Could Read My Mind," to my ear the finest "St. James Infirmary" of them all, the entire Two Steps from the Blues album (the best Southern soul album, even including Otis's; it has the impeccable and beautiful and scary "Lead Me On," for many the greatest performance of his career. The list goes all the way up to his Malaco sides, particularly "Ain't No Love In the Heart of the City." It is not true that Bobby Bland never made a bad record; it is true that his ratio of great to mediocre is as high as any other singer you can name, in any genre you care to cull.
To call him Bobby "Blue" Bland always seemed redundant to me—as if he could be heard for so much as eight bars and you wouldn't know that this was his core, his essence and, one way or another, a heap of your own. But you can make too much of this essentialism--finally, you know Bobby Bland's name and music less well because he was like his audience. He was a key voice of the black Southern working class from the '50s onward. His role was to play the shouter from the anonymous ranks, the totally heart broken man among an all-but-totally heart broken folk. (And of course, once in a while, shouting with all the more exuberance because of that every day heartbreak.)
He was completely non-intellectual about the whole enterprise, as far as I can tell. He told Peter Guralnick that his ambition was to be able to sing each song the exact same way, every time he sang it. A strange kind of perfectionism. But his command of tone and phrasing was so great that for me he held the place that Frank Sinatra held for a lot of other people. "Lead Me On" in particular has never not brought me to tears. Not once, though I sometimes listened to it many, many, many times in a row--when I was by myself, the way that particular act of allegiance is best performed. And you know what? He sings it the same way every time.
Perfection is something he knew a lot about. And I, especially the I who found him on the radio and held him very close to the center of my being for the better part of half a century, will never be able to thank him enough. Or often enough. Or even express what I'm thanking him for altogether adequately.
I will tell you the real truth: He was, for me, probably the greatest blues singer of any kind, and the reason I can say this now instead of at the beginning is quite simple: I started listening to Two Steps from the Blues.
"No matter what you do, I'm gonna keep on loving you and I'm not ashamed, oh no, I'm not ashamed."
Category:general -- posted at: 10:56am EDT
Tue, 25 June 2013
The summer jazz festival season kicks off on a high note with the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which begins its 34th run from June 28th to July 7th. Besides presenting a series of top notch ticketed concerts, the Festival prides itself on sharing the wealth – one of their themes this year is “10 stages, 300 concerts, 3000 artists – all free.” The Festival itself will be dedicated to great pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, who had a long history with the event.
Highlights include performances by a wide range of artists encompassing jazz, blues, world music and beyond: Aretha Franklin, Wayne Shorter, Chucho Valdés, George Benson, Oliver Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, John Abercrombie, Ravi Coltrane, Bill Frisell, Holly Cole, Trombone Shorty, Jason Moran doing a “Fats Waller Dance Party”, and Gregory Porter. Rock fans will be able to catch Lyle Lovett, Chris Isaak, Boz Scaggs, a double bill of Dr. John and Leon Russell, and so many more. The Invitation TD series includes a pair of three-night runs hosted first by Charles Lloyd, then by Vijay Iyer. One of the highlights from the many performances on the outdoor stages will be Lorraine Klaasen’s “Tribute to Miriam Makeba”, twenty years after her first Festival visit.
It’s all too much to take in over ten days, so if you go, plot your course carefully, and be open to new and exciting music. There is so much more than music- the Galerie Lounge TD, located in the exhibition hall of Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme, Place des Arts, offers a treasure trove of works by artists from every provenance who share a common passion for jazz during the Festival, and there are a large number of Festival boutiques and restaurants. And of course, there is the backdrop of the wonderful city of Montréal.
Podcast 357 captures just a few of the musical performers who will appear in the Festival, including:
Aretha Franklin – “Crazy He Calls Me” from Aretha’s Jazz. From that brief period before she was the Queen of Soul….
Lorraine Klaasen – “Pata Pata” from A Tribute to Miriam Makeba.”Mama Africa” is warmly remembered on this CD, which includes this tune that became an unlikely crossover American radio hit in 1967, more than ten years after she wrote the song. Backing Ms. Klaasen are Sebastian Andre Whiternan on bass, Assane Seck on guitar, and Moise Matey-Yawo on percussion.
Wayne Shorter Quartet – “UFO” from Without a Net. The first Blue Note album in years comes as Wayne celebrates his birthday. The Quartet is Shorter on sax, Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass, and Brian Blade on drums.
Joshua Redman – “Last Glimpse of Gotham” from Walking Shadows. Redman is featuring with a string section at the Festival, playing a mix of standards and more modern tunes.
Charles Lloyd & Jason Moran – “Rosetta” from Hagar’s Song. They’ll be leading two separate bands, but their duet album released earlier this year on ECM is a delight.
Chucho Valdés & the Afro-Cuban Messengers – “Santa Cruz” from Border-Free. One of the great Cuban pianists of all-time makes an appearance as well. “Santa Cruz,” written in 1986, is a flamenco-tinged piece dedicated to Santi, a guitarist Chucho met from the Canary Islands.