Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Music Muse Day - Metheny Mehldah, Tony Williams, and RIP Larry Coryell.

Welcome to another Sunday Music Muse Day, where I share newly acquired music and old favorites, and this week to sadly note the passing of a music great.  First is a CD that its minimalist  title and cover art belies the great music of the two musician featured on it.  Metheny Mehldah is a duet CD of guitarist, Pat Metheny, and pianist, Brad Mehldah playing a set of originals by both.  The liner notes reveals their deep mutual respect for the each other, and they show that in their playing.   I've CDs of both, leading their own groups. and this CD is a nice addition to the list.

Next is an interesting find, Tony Wiliams (Anthony Williams on the original LP cover) Life Time. This was the legendary drummer's first recording as a leader, at age 19, and playing with Miles Davis, in fact the personal of this date include his Davis band mates. (I think Blue Note, the record company, used "Anthony" to make him seem more mature)  The music is more avant garde, spontaneous, and improvisational than his later Jazz Fusion group Tony William Lifetime that he formed in 1969 after leaving Miles. The word "Life Time" must have had held a special meaning Tony since he used it again for his New Lifetime groups in 1977, 1979, 1980.  His Blue Note recording definitely heralded great things to come.

On a sad note, this week marked the passing of jazz guitar great Larry Coryell.  Best known for his trailblazing jazz fusion playing. As eulogized in the New York Times, " Larry Coryell a virtuoso guitarist who in the 1960s was among the first musicians to bring a rock sound and sensibility to jazz, and who continued to blur the lines between genres throughout his career, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 73."  To me, he and his contemporaries, like guitarist John Mclaughlin and pianist Chick Corea bridged the gap between Rock and Jazz.  Once you followed these guys int the world of Jazz, it was hard to settle for a steady diet of Rock music ever again.  I featured an early album Spaces just a week or so ago, and his last recording Barefoot Man:  Sanpaku, currently, too. 

I really enjoy reaching his musical journey, and I'm sad it has ended, but he will live in the great legacy of music he has left us with. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Music Muse Day - Roddy Ellias, Bill Frisell, Mike Melito, Miles Davis Sextet

Welcome to another Sunday Music Muse Day, and I'm finding that music is helping me get through the stressful political news of the day.  So, here's some choice selections to ease the tensions of the day.  First a new guitarist, at least to me, Roddy Ellias Monday's Dream.  This was a random pick, a pure shot in dark purchase for me.  The simple, understated CD cover design reminded me of an ECM cover.  I like guitar trios, so, I decided to give it a shot,  I'm very glad I did. Roddy's music, from the very first notes made me think of Ralph Towner, and checking a review online, it mentioned that very point. "If there are hints of Ralph Towner in Ellias' often abstruse but nevertheless compelling compositions, it's because the two share a commonality: the evolution of harmonic languages that make them unmistakable from the first notes of a tune..." (John Kelman - all about jazz) This is very nice, introspective outing.  I hope I can find more recordings by him.

Next, is a favorite musician of mine, guitarist Bill Frisell Nashville.  Again, Bill Frisell's music defies description as he blends so many styles of music into his work.  I think of him as "Modern Americana" in the vain of Aarron Copland of "Fanfare for the Common Man" fame.  Nashville would fit nicely in this theme.

Next is a local treasure, drummer,Mike Melito In the Tradition, another excellent Hard Bop outing as a leader, recorded in 2008.  Joining Mike is another local treasure Bob Sneider, on guitar.  Mike and Bob play together constantly around the Rochester area, and their music rapport is always a pleasure to hear and watch. I missed a gig they did on Friday night, but I know I'll be seeing them again soon.

My last selection is a classic for the music, and the CD cover, Jazz at the Plaza - Miles Davis Sextet, Vol.1.  This is a nice addition to my Miles collection, and a companion to the Duke Ellington Jazz at the Plaza CD that was recorded at the same date.

I'll be turning to these great selections repeatedly in the coming days, using their music to soothe the political beast. I advise you to pick up some good music and do the same. Enjoy

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sunday Music Muse Day (a day late, again) Blue Falcon, Larry Coryell, Rez Abbasi & Junction

Sorry for the erratic Sunday Music Muse Day postings, but the current political climate is distracting.  That said, maybe the best way to get through these stressful days, especially here in upstate New York where we get long periods of grey, gloomy, overcast days, is with good music.  My first selection even has a song about a disorder this causes. On the local band Blue Falcon Full Flight, John Viviani and Ben Stephanus do a  tune "S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder). This is a local indie Rock band, I still have to see live.  (John is the husband of a friend, and former co-worker Deena Lipomi Viviani) Personally I like John's jazz fusion outing more, but Blue Falcon is fun band to listen to.

Next is Rez Abbasi & Junction Behind the Vibration is young group of musicans lead by guitarist Rez Abbasi who asked the question,"What might a modern jazz album sound like in the hands of contemporary musicians employing a breath of influences and current technologies?  I'll forgive Res, who wrote the liner notes, for sounding like a pretentious jerk in thinking he doing anything but reinventing the wheel. I was at the being of jazz fusion, which he wrote on his other CD of fusion tunes, Rez Abassi, Acoustic Quartet, that he skipped that period when he was studying jazz.  When you're late to the party you don't get to disrespect the pioneers who came before you.  Time will tell if Abbasi's music stand the test of time.

Speaking of jazz fusion pioneers, guitarist Larry Coryell Spaces, rates as milestone album.  I couldn't resist buying this CD of the classic album, which I still own.   With Coryell, John Mclaughlin on guitar, Chick Corea on electric piano, Miroslov Vitous on bass, and Bill Cobham this is group of musician who went on to play with, and form their own monster groups, Eleventh House (Coryell) Mahavishu Orchestra (Mclaughlin with Cobham), Return to Forever (Corea), and Weather Report (Vitous).  Those are giants Abassi needs to bow down to.

That's it for now.  This is plenty great music to drown the noise of politics for while.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sunday Music Muse Day (one day late) Trio of Doom, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Tony Williams, Jimmy Smith

Sunday's Music Muse Day post is a day late due to football playoffs, and a developing cold.  But, the music help me feel better.  The first two CDs were picked up in Toronto, Canada, during a lovely brief road trip with my wife.  These fusion jazz gems are connected in a way.  First up. Trio of Doom, the one time pairing of guitarist John McLaughlin, drummer Tony Williams, and bassist Jaco Pastorius recorded at the historic 1979 Havana Jam festival in Cuba. This CD contains all the material they record live, and in the studio shortly afterwards.  McLaughlin actually didn't want the material released at first because of poor recording of the live tracks, but 27 year later he relented, mainly in honor of his friends, Tony and Jaco, who had since passed away.  The music is rough and raw, but important considering stature of these musicians.

Next up. Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Lost Trident Sessions, which features John McLaughlin, again.  This CD is was supposed to the group's third album, but according to the liner notes, it was lost and forgotten due to internal strife of the band, as they split up soon after it was completed. I'm glad it be released.  Interesting, since it was to be an album, it only about 35 minutes long, as compared to today's longer music CD productions.

My next selection is also connect the Trio of Doom, with Tony Williams Angel Street CD.  I think I have the vinyl record of this but couldn't pass it up.  I think I appreciate Tony William's straight hard bop playing more now than when this was released on vinyl in 1988.

Finally, here's jazz organ legend, Jimmy Smith Prayer Meeting, with Stanley Turrentine on saxophone.  This is another reissue of a Blue Note Records session by Rudy Van Gelder.  I found myself picking up more jazz organ music in the past year.  Proving you're never too old learn to enjoy different sounds (I've always been very guitar-centric in my listening habits).

That's it for this week. But, I like to take a moment to remember, and honor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr on this, his day.  We as a nation still have a long way to go to fore fill his dream, but I believe, together, "We shall over come".


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Throwback Thursday ExoSquad promo kit

Here's Throwback Thursday follow up to a post inspired by Rick Squires who found an ExoSquad promo notice in the LA Times (1994). This is the show promo package Will Meugniot put together, and most of the art is Will's. I was the oversea director for the first season, and moved to LA to be co-producer/director on the second season. A great time was had by all. A great show, with a great crew. I wouldn't mind seeing it get a update, and re-launch by some talented upstarts.

 The only issue of Topps ExoSquad comic, a Exo patch, MCA newsletter, and promo art for TV station to use.

 Here's the ExoSquad crew jacket.  I sold mine years ago, because it was too small on me, and I really didn't like the color.