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. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - Record Store Day, Wes Montgomery, Miles from India, Cassandra Wilson

This Sunday Music Muse Day follows the annual Record Store Day celebration.  I did my bit by picking up this 10" vinyl LP, Wes Montgomery and the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet.  Of course, I love the music, a 1955 session produced by Quincy Jones.  The retro cover art is a big plus.


I also picked up two CDs with the common tread of Miles Davis music.  First is Miles from India - A Celebration of the Music of Miles Davis. It's 2 CD set that is a collaboration between foremost Indian musicians and former Miles Davis band members, including Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Pete Cosey, Mike Stern, and even John McLaughlin on one cut, he wrote specifically for the recording.  It's interesting to hear this cross-cultural project and marvel it how Miles's strong influence show through.



The next Miles influenced pick is Cassandra Wilson Traveling Miles.  It's a 1999 CD of Miles Davis-inspired songs with words and music by the talented jazz songstress. I'm not big on vocal normally, but I like earthy quality of Cassandra Wilson's voice.   Although she is labeled as a jazz singer her past albums has her interpretations of Rock and Folk  tunes.  This is a nice tribute to Miles. On a side note:  this seems to be a pre-release promo CD. The interior-cover is full of publicity info.  A small look behind the curtain of the music business. 


Plus, I found a different cover for the final release, and it included a photo of Wilson recreating classic Miles cover.


It seems spring has finally arrived with the first sunny day in weeks. It made record hunting a pleasure. Enjoy.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Music Muse day - Johnny Smith, George Van Eps, Ralph Towner, Thelonious Monk.

This week's Sunday Music Muse Day, again finds us suffering cold, icy, weather in the what is supposed to be Spring.  Although our region seems to have been spared the ice storm predicted, it's still cold, grey and dreary.  The way to brighten the day is with some good music.  I started the morning with The Definitive Thelonious Monk on Prestige and Riverside, a 2 CD collection of Monk tracks from his albums on the those classic record labels.  I admit to coming late to Monk's catalog of music.  For me his name always conjures up visions of adventurous, and thoughtful music. The 18 page booklet contains tons of info, and reproductions of album covers.


As I settled into midday, I enjoy this CD of two legendary guitarists, Johnny Smith / George Van Eps Legends: Solo Guitar Performances.  This mellow and gentle CD glows with quiet fire and musical integrity.  Johnny Smith had a hit with Stan Getz in 1952 with "Moonlight in Vermont". His session on this CD was recorded in 1976.  George Van Eps lengthy career credits includes playing with Benny Goodman, and Frank Sinatra.  He is well known for his developing and using the 7-string guitar, which extended the low range. (I had trouble stringing a 6-string guitar, so playing 7-strings in out of the question for me). This is perfect background music for a winter day (in Spring) or a quiet gathering of friends.  Try it.


My last selection is Ralph Towner City of Eyes, which finds the adventurous guitarist displaying his multi-instrumental talent beyond his usual classical guitar with 12 string guitar, piano (actually his first instrument) and Synthesizer.  The group also includes Paul McCandless a band mate from Oregon, on Oboe and English horn.  A online review states "In essence, City of Eyes shows Ralph Towner as a musical explorer again, a composer and instrumentalist who can persuasively create aural travelogues through time, space, and terrain." I would agree and intend to enjoy the journey."

Eventually, spring will arrive, until then we have to use music to bring sunshine into our days. Enjoy.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette. Al DiMeola

Welcome to another springtime Sunday Music Muse Day, although snow on the ground and cold weather (here in north western New York state) might confuse you. Today's two selections have has a common connection of personal and emotional issues for both artist. First, is a new release of a1998 live recording by pianist Keith Jarrett, After the Fall, with Gary Peacock on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. This 2 CD set's title refers to Keith Jarrett’s “fall” into a bout of chronic fatigue syndrome in autumn (or fall) 1996.  The illness kept him from playing publicly for two years. This concert, recorded in Newark, New Jersey, near his home, was his first post-recovery attempt to play before an audience. In many ways a personal triumph for him.  I admit I'm not a giant fan of Keith Jarrett, but this is a joy to listen to, even without knowing the context.


Al DiMeola Opus, his latest release, also, finds the fusion-famed guitarist stating, "for the first time in my life, I have written music being happy.  I'm in a wonderful relationship with my wife. I have a baby girl and a beautiful family that inspires me every day.  I believe it shows in the music."  I have no details to fully understand what he's referring to. as being unhappy.  He adds in this music he sees himself furthering his compositional skills to become a "composer/guitarist" rather "guitarist/composer".  I'm more than happy to give this repeated listenings to figure the different.



Both these musician show that there has to be a attachment to the full experiences of life, the good, and the bad,  Those experiences help shape the music, whether the audience is ever aware of it.