Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Recordings I Love, Part 1

The ultimate in self-indulgence (what else are blogs for?).

In no particular order...

1. Sonny Rollins/St. Thomas/Saxophone Colossus/Prestige
2. McCoy Tyner/The Greeting/The Greeting/Milestone
3. Lee Morgan/Totem Pole/The Sidewinder/Blue Note
4. John Coltrane/Afro-Blue/A John Coltrane Retrospective: The Impulse Years/ Impulse
5. Miles Davis/So What/Kind of Blue/Columbia
6. Ella Fitzgerald/Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered/The Rodgers and Hart Song Book/Verve
7. Neko Case/Star Witness/Fox Confessor Brings the Flood/Mint
8. Richard and Linda Thompson/For Shame of Doing Wrong/Pour Down Like Silver/Island
9. The Replacements/Alex Chilton/Pleased to Meet Me/Sire
10. Kate Bush/Wuthering Heights/The Kick Inside/EMI

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Piano Heaven

I've been feeling theme-y, so last night I played all solo piano on my jazz show (www.kopn.org). Given the abundance of top-shelf solo piano recordings, it would be really hard to put together a bad program on this theme, so I take no credit for the way the show sounded. It basically came together on its own.

KOPN Playlist 5-15-07
artist/song/album/record label

1. Fats Waller/Viper's Drag/The Joint is Jumpin'/Bluebird
2. McCoy Tyner/Naima/The Greeting/Milestone
3. Keith Jarrett/Radiance Part VIII/Radiance/ECM
4. Thelonious Monk/Round About Midnight/Monkisms/Piccadilly
5. Oscar Peterson/I Concentrate on You/Oscar Peterson in Russia/Pablo
6. Art Tatum/These Foolish Things/Solo Masterpieces Vol. 8/Pablo
7. Mulgrew Miller/My Man's Gone Now/Work!/Landmark
8. James Williams/New York/Maybeck Recital Hall Series Vol. 42/Concord
9. Marcus Roberts/Black and Tan Fantasy/Alone with Three Giants/Novus
10. Benny Green/Lester Left Town/Naturally/Telarc

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Guitar Heroes of Jazz

The radio station where I volunteer is doing another fund drive, so I decided to put together a little theme for my show last night, in the hope of making the begging a bit more palatable. Below is the playlist for my "Guitar Heroes of Jazz" show. Yes, many greats are missing (e.g., Wes Montgomery, most obviously), but when you only have an hour, you do what you can.

KOPN playlist 5-8-07
artist/song/album/record label

1. Joe Beck/Laura/Tri07/Whaling City Sound
2. Derek Trucks Band/Elvin/Soul Serenade/Columbia
3. Pat Martino/The Phineas Trane/Think Tank/Blue Note
4. John McLaughlin/Afro Blue/After the Rain/Verve
5. Joe Pass & Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen/Yardbird Suite/Chops/Pablo
6. Benny Green (featuring Russell Malone on guitar)/Come On Home/These Are Soulful Days/Blue Note
7. John Scofield/Alfie/En Route/Verve
8. Django Reinhardt/Djangology/Djangology/Bluebird

A couple of notes: The two songs I've heard from that new Joe Beck cd are fabulous. And man, do I need to listen to more Derek Trucks! The only money we received while I was on the air was from a guy who walked into the studio while the Trucks song was playing. He said he was in his car and just had to pull over to make a donation!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Play It Again, Daddy!

My 2-year-old thinks it's 1984. Ever since I checked out the "Stop Making Sense" soundtrack cd from the public library a few months ago, he's decided his favorite song is "Thank You for Sending Me an Angel." This was not one of the more notable songs from the Talking Heads' extremely entertaining concert film, but somehow it's captured my tyke's imagination.

Only David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, and Chris Frantz perform on this one, although they give off a much larger sound. The tune rollicks along to Frantz's snare drum, with Byrne sounding like a madman, assuring us that (with a little practice) "you can walk, you can talk just like me!" My son dances both with me holding him or by himself, stomping around the living room and jumping in time to the cymbal crashes. He requests it constantly.

I have now heard this song no fewer than 100 times. Fortunately, it's only about two minutes long, so I guess it's only taken up about three hours and change of my life. Actually, watching the little guy dance to it is about as entertaining for me as almost anything he does.

Lately, my son allows us to listen to other songs on the album, and there are many, many fine ones. The Talking Heads were one of the best bands of their time, and that film is really a work of art. I saw it three times when it was released, and still feel mesmerized by the music and staging.

I guess the little acorn doesn't roll far from the big nut, or something like that.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Radio Radio

For about the past 9 years, I've hosted a jazz show on our community radio station, 89.5 fm KOPN (www.kopn.org). It's just a one-hour deal, once a week--Tuesdays, 8-9 p.m. Central, for anyone wishing to check it out on the station's web stream.

For perhaps no one's amusement other than my own, I'll post my show's playlists here from time to time. Feel free to comment on, judge, praise, or ignore my taste in jazz.

KOPN Playlist 5-1-07:
artist/song title/album/record label

1. Paul Desmond/Take Ten/The Best of Paul Desmond/Epic
2. Allen Beeson (local trumpeter)/Oop Scop a Dop/First Time Out/Chase Music Group
3. Bobby McFerrin/Thinkin' About Your Body/Spontaneous Inventions/Blue Note
4. Bob French/Burgundy Street Blues/Marsalis Music Series Honors Bob French/Marsalis Music-Rounder
5. Miles Davis/If I Were a Bell/Relaxin' With the Miles Davis Quintet/Prestige
6. Max Roach Double Quartet/Little Booker/Easy Winners/Soul Note
7. Arturo Sandoval/Sandu/I Remember Clifford/GRP
8. Babel Gilberto/Um Segundo/Momento/Ziriguiboom-Six Degrees

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Creepy Dupree

Have you ever heard the song Cousin Dupree by Steely Dan? It was on their comeback cd, Two Against Nature, which came out in 2000. It's a fine example of the twisted-ness that pops up from time to time in Steely Dan's music.

The song's voice is that of a creepy guy working on his next career move "from the comfort of my Aunt Fay's couch." He sees his younger cousin for the first time in years, and "all I can say is 'Ouch!'" He goes on to express the torture he feels, watching her with her boyfriend, and strutting about the house in her "tight capris." He laments, "What's so strange about a down-home family romance?" Finally, he makes his move with a dumb pick-up line, and gets his comeuppance.

The thing about this song is that the sick nature of it all is paired with a jaunty, hook-y melody that gets under your skin. The thing is positively infectious.

So I'm washing the dishes a while ago with the iPod on shuffle, and up pops Dupree. I find myself singing and moving, one with the narrator. Then it hits me: Am I enjoying this song a bit too much?

Isn't it amazing how well-written music (or books or movies, for that matter) can put you into the shoes of someone you normally would never identify with?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Why I'm Doing This

Welcome to my blog. This is my first post, so please bear with me--I barely know what I'm doing.

I've started this blog for a few reasons: First, I have an intense love of music. There are only a few people I talk to about music, so I figured this will give me a chance to do that. Second, I'm always wanting to expand my awareness of musicians and recordings, both old and new. I'm hoping that some of you will be moved to post comments and tell me about the music you've discovered. And third, I've been spending a ridiculous amount of time on a career project, and I need a break. This should provide a bit of a diversion.

Some of the topics I'd like to cover here include musicians, recordings, radio, and concerts. My tastes are broad, though jazz and rock dominate.

To start things off, I'll just mention one cd that I highly recommend. It's called Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane, by alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett. Garrett is joined by Pat Metheny on guitar, Rodney Whitaker on Bass, and Brian Blade on Drums. It's on the Warner Bros. label and was released in 1996.

Why do I like this cd? First of all, Kenny Garrett is a seriously talented musician. I don't like all of his records, but this Coltrane tribute is really something. Metheny's guitar works well here. A critic once described his synth guitar work as "being force-fed an entire can of vanilla frosting," but it's used to fine effect on this record. The song selections--Equinox, Liberia, Dear Lord, Lonnie's Lament, Giant Steps, and others--offer a range of feels. Well worth checking out. If you've heard it, tell me what you think.