Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - Father's Day, Grant Geissman. Bireli Legrene, Warped Sky Stray Cloud

Here's wishing a happy Father's Day.  What better way to enjoy the day than to kick back and share some good tunes.  First up is Grant Geissman Say That.  This is interesting, I do favor guitarist in my music selection, and must admit the cover art and packageing caught my eye.  I vaguely remembered hearing of Geissman, with the term "Smooth Jazz" popping in my mind.  You know I hate Smooth Jazz. So, reading his liner notes he admit most people see him as a Smooth Jazz guy, and he says, "And I don't really want to be known as a Smooth Jazz guy.  In fact that's the last thing I want to known as, especially the way the music is going, which is to say...it's not music . It's Muzak".  Okay, he earn my money with that statement. He playing is definitely more straight ahead jazz, but there some soft edge to the set.  Another interest note.  Geissman is the co-writer of the Two and a Half men TV comedy theme.  He performs a longer jazzier version on the CD.  All in all a pleasing outing.




My second pick is Bireli Lagrene Standards is 1992 release, from guitarist I remember as a 15 year old who play amazing Dranjo Reinhardt styling in 1981 on his first record release.  This is set of jazz standards, and it has lost none of the fire in his playing. He's just got better with age.



Lastly, here is another tune in my Warped Sky: Stray Cloud project, a combination of songs from old tapes and new renditions of original tunes written and played by me in the 1980s. Beliefs is my "Bob Dylan" tune, an long opus full of social commentary. It was written back 1981, and never really completely until now. (My vocals, rhythm guitar. The rest produced in the Band in Box music program)   The Part (Slight Return) is mainly the Band in the Box rhythm section,  The Part 2 title "Slight Return" is  nod to Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child (Slight Return). 

As with other tunes of mine, there the making of an animated video in the song's storyline. Time will tell. For me, it's one more off my music bucket list. Enjoy.



Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Music Muse day - Brad Mehldau, Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane, Warped Sky Stray Cloud

Welcome to another Sunday Music Muse Day, where I share recently picked up CDs or items from my musical stash. First up, Brad Mehldau Highway Rider, a two CD set which, at first listen, seems like soundtrack to a unseen movie.  Actually, my wife and I thought parts of it was pretentious, but I like Brad Mehldau's other works, so I'm determined to give more intense listening before rendering final verdict.  With the inclusion of an orchestra, this has to regarded as a serious session.  Unfortunately the CD booklet offer no background info.   Online reviews call it a soundtrack to an imaginary film, at least I got that right.  One also states, Highway Rider is the "most fully realized original music the pianist has written to date", that being 2010.  So, maybe I have to venture outside of my comfort zone, a little.




The next selection is Kenny Burrrell with John Coltrane, is 1958 date lead by the guitarist Burrell for the classic jazz label Prestige with recording engineer, Rudy Van Gelder, a legend in his own right.The liner notes states this was a period when Coltrane, a giant of jazz saxophone, was starting to move from the Miles Davis band to forge his own direction.  I love finding gems and fill the gaps in my jazz music history.  History never sound so sweet.

Lastly, here is another tune in my Warped Sky:Stray Cloud project, a combination of songs from old tapes and new renditions of original tunes written and played by me in the 1980s.

Thief or a Savior, is an attempt at a Rock tune, although I don't have the voice for it. It was written back 1985, and never really completely until now.  (My vocals, rhythm guitar and bassline. The rest produced in the Band in Box music program) I still imagine a trio of female backup singers, but couldn't  manage that.



There is the making of an animated video in the song's storyline. Time will tell.  For me, it's one more off my music bucket list. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - Ken Clark Organ Trio, Jazz Fusion, Warped Sky: Stray Cloud

On this rainy Sunday Music Muse Day, after a touch of 90 degree summer weather the past few days, we settle in with a couple different CD picks.  First up, is the Ken Clark Organ Trio Eternal Funk, with Mike Mele on guitar, and Steve Chaggaris on drums.  They seem to hail from the New England area. I admit I knew nothing about the group before buying this, I just liked the cover and I been getting into younger jazz organ players like Joey DeFrancesco. These guys are a nice addition to the genre. All the tunes are original, except for a Miles Davis tune.  The trio swings, and I'll be keep an eye for other CDs.


The second is a Rhino Record collection, Jazz Fusion.  I like to pick up collection CDs as something to play in the car as I run errands on weekends (it seem more cars companies are eliminating CD player from newer models, just shows I have an old car)  Of course I most have of the tracks on this CD on full albums of CDs of the respective players, with the exception of Dixie Dregs, Ronnie Montrose, and Steve Morse Band.  I've heard of them but I think of them more as Rock than Jazz Fusion.  Some jazz fans and critics feel about Jazz Fusion the way I feel about Smooth Jazz (Kenny G. etc.), mainly they hate it.  I like it and think of Jazz Fusion as my transition from the Rock and Blues Rock of the 60s to listening to Jazz.  Mainly through guitarist John McLauglin playing on Miles Bitches Brew albums. McLauglin and Miles both have a cut on this CD, so what's not to like.



Lastly, here is another tune in my Warped Sky:Stray Cloud project, a combination of songs from old tapes and new renditions of original tunes written and played by me in the 1980s.
"This Love Can be One-Side for Awhile" (Feb. '81) is tune with lyrics written by the buddy, Richard Miceli (member of the original Warped Sky Band with Rodney Means) and my music.  Again, in this case, "Band" means three guys screwing around playing in our apartment. This is a tongue-in-cheek jazz ballad. The lyrics has little bit of Tom Waits in it, as he was a favorite of Richard.  This version finds me doing my best Giacomo Gates vocal imitation. (Mike Melito, who played with Giacomo will have give him my apologies)
On the production side this is my first tune using my new audio interface set up, the Focusrite Scarlett Pro (2nd gen), MXL 990 mic with pop filter, and AKG Headphones, to play into the computer and Apple Garageband, with an assist from Band in a Box software for backing track, and sax solo. It maybe a aural case of polishing turds, but I see it as decluttering my head of unfinished projects. (Pete Grossett, I'll get to one of your tune soon)

Until next time, enjoy.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - Memorial Day, Chick Corea and Gary Burton, Warped Sky Stray Cloud Update

On this Memorial Day weekend, I would first hope we are mindful of the true meaning of Memorial Day, a time to remember and reflect on the fallen who give their lives so we can enjoy the freedoms and rights they believed in.  With that I highly recommend the TV special Hollowed Ground which runs on PBS stations on Memorial Days sometimes. It's very moving.
Hallowed Grounds. 
This week music selection finds a double dose of legendary jazz vibraphonist, Gary Burton. First in one of my favorite duo pairing, Chick Corea & Gray Burton Hot House.  This a 2012 release and the seventh duo recording, that start from "spur-of-the moment encore at a jazz festival in Germany in 1972" as Burton states in the inner notes, "which led to our first recording Crystal Silence, a couple of months later."  Crystal Silence, the album, and especially the title tune, remain an absolute favorite of mine. Hot House finds the pair, choosing "a repertoire drawn form some of our favorite composers from the 1940's through the 1960s".  It a joy join these two great on their shared music journey.


The second select is Gary Burton A genuine Tong Funeral.  A CD reissue of a classic Burton  album featuring compositions by Carla Bley recorded in 1967 and released on the RCA label. Its subtitledDark Opera Without Words. Critics have called it one of Burton's most intriguing recordings.  This classic group includes guitarist Larry Coryell, and bassist Steve Swallow (who I believe was married to Carla Bley). This also include the Gary Burton Quartet Lofty Fake Anagram LP, recorded in 1967, with Booby Moses on drums.  Some consider the true start of jazz fusion, that maybe up for debate, but there is no denying the good listening  they offer. All the more appreicated since Gary Burton annouced his retirement a while ago.





Finally, there is no Warped Sky Stray Cloud, a combination of songs from old tapes and new renditions of original tunes written and played by me in the 1980s, today.  I waiting for some home audio equipment order to be delivered. I'm hoping it will up the ante on the quality of my recordings. I had Tascam 4-track cassette ages ago, but the digital recording market has really advanced.  The amount of tutorials online as mindblowing. 
Stand tuned for th next installment.  Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - John Scofield, Dave Liebman and John Stowell, Warped Sky: Stray Cloud - After a Gentle Rain

Welcome to another Sunday Music Muse Day. First up, John Scofield Country for Old Men. Scofield is one of my favorite guitarist best known for his modern playing style, post-bop to fusion.  Scofield's playing sometime seem like its going out of control, but he reins it in to the delight of listeners and critics.  This outing is sort of concept project which finds him playing "a sampler of Country Music, old and new.." he states in the liner notes, " I wanted to play these songs because I've always liked country music from a far.  I knew that if we picked the right songs could turn them into jazz."  I'm not a country fan but I did recognize several of the tunes, like classics "I'm an Old Cowhand" and "Red River Valley".  (We had to sing those in my elementary school)  He definitely give these a solid jazz "turn".  It a fun CD.


My next selection is also a concept project of sorts, Dave Liebman and John Stowell The Music of Sidney Bechet,  This duo's outing find saxophonist, Liebman, and guitarist, Stowell, exploring the music of Sidney Bechet, the New Orlean's born jazz pioneer of the 1920s. Summertime is the tune I'm most familiar with on this CD, but look forward to discovering the rest of the tunes.

My last selection is another installment of my Warped Sky: Stray Cloud project, a combination of songs from old tapes and new renditions of original tunes written and played by me in the 1980s. Today's tune is After a Gentle Rain.  It's a samba inspired by the Luiz Bonfa tune, The Gentle Rain. I used to play Gentle Rain with my buddy Peter Grosett. This video has my new version of my After a Gentle Rain played against a Band in a Box backing track, and Spoiler Alert: my vocals (it sounded much better in the shower). Also included is my original instrumental track made in 1982, on a nylon string guitar and an overdubbed lead. 

Again, It's fun working on these old tunes. I not aiming for perfection of musical execution, just "close enough for jazz" as they say, to ease my creative clutter. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sundeay Music Muse Day - Happy Mother's Day, Bill Frisell, Ben Monder and Arron Shragge, and Warped Sky - Stray Cloud

This Sunday Music Muse Day find us celebrating Mother's Day. So. Happy Mother's Day to all the mom, past, present and future. We wouldn't be here without you.

Today's selection presents a hit, and a miss.  First up is Bill Frisell Intercontinentals which finds the eclectic guitarist teaming up with international group of musicians to explore areas beyond his Americana outings of the past.  Bill Frisell's musical excursions are always worth joining, this is no exception.  Also the package graphics will warm a audiophile's heart.






My second selection is Aaron Shragge & Ben Monder The Key is in the Window is kind of a miss for me.  I picked this up on the strength of Ben Monder's name, and Shragge's use of the shakuhachi flutes.  The japanese flutes reminded of my friend Richard Miceli, who used play it occasionally.  Although an online review gives this 3-stars saying, "This is a good compilation of meditational music full of great flute, trumpet and guitar work."  I found it meandering and boring.  I'll have to give another try before casting in the recycle bin.


Again, here's another original tune is part of my Warped Sky - Stray Clouds project. Warped Sky - Stray Cloud, is a combination of songs from old tapes and new renditions of original tunes written and played by me in the 1980s.  Mostly it's for my friends, Richard Miceli and Rodney Means, the old Warped Sky Band, "band" being a very loose interpretation of the word. Besides us totally butchering musical favorites of our by Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and songs like "Peter Gun - Theme", we liked to play original tunes and songs which Richard labeled best, "Noise Jazz,  or Art Noise". I'm starting to upload my post-Warped Sky Band tunes online with the help of Band in a Box to full them out.

Band in the Box lets me translate rough ideas that existed as chord charts, sometimes just lyrics into a full rough.  It even prints a fake book style chart. 


It's fun working on these old tunes. I not aiming for perfection of musical execution, just "close enough for jazz" as they say, to ease my creative clutter. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - Duke Ellington Birthday, Jazzy Birthday (More or Les)

The Sunday Music Muse Day falls on Duke Eliington's birthday. What better way to celebrate that to spin some of my favorite Ellington Album and CDs.  Duke Ellington Piano in the Foreground is a favorite because actually like Duke small group sessions,  Having Sam Woodyard, my father pictured on the cover is a plus.




With Duke Ellington meets Coleman Hawkins, the biggest thrill is the first tune"Limbo Jazz", were Sam is heard vocalizing on the tune unaware the he's being recorded.  I'm so glad Duke release this cut as is.  I always get a kick out of hearing it. Of course the whole session is full of great playing by everyone.  The tune started my friendship with Tom Pethic when I thanked him on air for playing it on Jazz90.1, introduced myself. Thanks, Tom.


My finally selection is Duke Ellington Soul Call. I searched a long time to find the original LP after hearing the first cut La Plus Belle Africaine on a college radio station in the early 70s.  I was digging the drumming, without knowing it was Duke and my father playing on the drums. At the time I was more into Rock music, especially Cream, with drummer Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton on guitar, and Jack Bruce on bass. I happily picked up the CD reissue.

So, hope you find a way to celebrate Duke, too.

As a Part 2 to this Sunday Muse Day, and in honor of Duke, I sharing a rough version original tune Jazzy Birthday (More or Les).  The "Les" in the title refers to a old friend of Les Bernstein, not Les Paul the great guitar player, and father (inventor) of the solid body electric guitar, although it could, also. It's a work in progress.  Here are lyrics to this, but they're not ready, well... I'm not ready to torture people with vocals.  I could hear Giamono Gates doing it. 

I recently picked up the Band in a Box music program which lets you make backing tracks.  I going to use to put my old unfinished musical ideas down.  Sort of a musical "Dime-a-Dozen Project".  I have scores of half-baked idea collecting dust is folders.  A few are dusting off and presenting in some form.

This is actually what I started my Sunday Music Muse Day post to explore my music side.  They will never be a perfect, but I hope they're fun.